Every Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host, Ranked (Part Three)

Alright Folks…now for the real countdown.

Out of all 59 guest hosts, the ones in this post are, in my humble opinion, the 20 best. There was something about the way they hosted that captivated me, entertained me, impressed me, and made me laugh like hell. I’m gonna note here that this may not be everyone’s opinion, that I may have ranked some people too high, or too low. But this is my list, and I think I did a pretty good job feeling out where everyone belonged.

Right. Onto #20, a show I was outwardly fearing..

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#20- James Blunt (Series 25 Episode 8)

Talk about a guy who knows exactly who he is.

What I like about James Blunt is that he’s probably heard every ‘James Blunt sucks’ joke there is, and still manages to be funny, and an amazing sport. When it came time for him to host Buzzcocks, after a fantastic appearance on the Terry Wogan show, he was prepared, and he went at it with high energy and some nice, if Tokvig-esque whip-fast, reads.

I do have to say that the majority of the show was the panel screwing in him, not just on his status as a punchline, but as it came out that he’d had relations with, and I quote ‘20% of the Pussycat Dolls’. That joke alone gave the panel, including Sarah Millican and Matthew Crosby, enough fuel for the rest of the night. Even better, James was a fantastic sport, never being afraid to make fun of himself. His reads would occasionally slip, and sometimes his quick presenting would impede with jokes, but he had a fantastic night, and proved that within the punchline was a legitimately funny performer.

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#19- David Tennant (Series 23 Episode 12)

In 2009, just as David Tennant was wrapping up his beloved run as a certain timelord, he agreed to do a run on some panel shows, to give back, and have one last Who-related run in the spotlight. His show on QI was wonderful, but for Buzzcocks, he decided to do something special. He made the whole show a DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL, rolling out two of his Who compadres, Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins, and two celebrity Who fans, Jo Whiley and Jamie Cullum, and peppered the entire show with Ood, Cybermen, Daleks, and a giant TARDIS sitting outside the range of the panel. To say it was Buzzcocks’ most ambitious themed show was an understatement, but it’s also one of the most rewarding, if you’re a fan of Who, and if you’re a fan of NMTB.

David was sure to let his personality shine through, by revealing that he’s an unabashed Coldplay fan, and having a running gag angrily shouting the name of a certain fellow Who-verse star. He was also great at the ‘hosting’ portion of the show. Like Blunt, after a while he knew when to let the panel snipe amongst themselves, especially considering Tate’s mental breakdown…and the fact that Bernard Cribbins became the show’s secret weapon. Even if David’s off-the-cuff abilities were sort of down, he still made sure everyone enjoyed themselves, and oh boy did they…

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#18 – Lorraine Kelly (Series 25 Episode 3)

Fresh off the rebranding of Series 25, and two forgettable, unnerving shows, Lorraine Kelly brought us a breath of life from a series that many thought was about to go south. Kelly, contrasting from her squeaky-clean morning show persona, introduced a swear box, spanking paddle, and halfway through the show waxed Phill’s legs. So in terms of morning show presenters, Lorraine Kelly was willing to bend over backwards to put them all in the dust.

It helped that, as a presenter, she didn’t have a problem hosting the show, or keeping the show running smoothly, but she was also responsible for being really funny, and leading to some ‘how the hell is that coming out of Lorraine Kelly’s mouth’ moments. She had this joking way of flirting with some of the contestants, which backfired in a way when her bra sort of exploded during a take, leading the entire panel to improvise around her. She was collaborative, funny, and melded well with everyone on the panel, even if the occasional dip to the well of sexy humor may have distracted from her endeavor of hosting the show.

Still, her show was something of a classic, and her presence ramped up the show into one of the craziest recordings in Buzzcocks history (and half of it wasn’t even Tony Law’s fault.)

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#17 – Lee Mack (Series 24 Episode 8 & Series 26 Episode 5)

Like Jack Dee, Lee Mack’s another instance of a guy who was sensational on his first time out, and whose 2nd hosting gig pushed him down a few pegs, though the strength of his first outing has pushed him up to #17. I don’t think anybody’s been more on top of his game than Lee on the Series 24 show. Every second, the breath of the comedy gods was flowing through him, and he was giving some spectacular off-the-cuff material, in addition to keeping the show tight. He managed to go off on a tangent on the proper flight attendant uniform, Andrew Stone’s proclamation is that a triple threat is someone who can sing, dance, act, and is coming for you, and his former roommate Noel Fielding.

Additionally, his off the cuff skills led to one of my favorite moments of this era, the entire ‘BATMAAAAN’ Intros round, with Lee commanding the audience to join in, and eventually buckling at the one renegade audience member who does it a third time. Lee was able to work that stage to the point where he could have hosted the show full-time.

However…his second show was sloppily hosted, sloppily structured by the producers, and just a weak effort compared to his last show. Lee spent an entire 3-minute bit completely mis-doing a teleprompter read, and while it was funny and well reacted-to, it was still hard to see from a guy who did it all so well the last time. It was, frankly, a disappointing show, but it didn’t come close to taking away from how strong Lee Mack could be when left to his own devices. As a Buzzcocks host, he was dominant, fast, and insanely likable, in good times and bad.

Moving onto another fellow who’s worked with David Mitchell…

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#16- Robert Webb (Series 24 Episode 11)

It’s great- when I saw Rob Webb was hosting, I thought ‘yeah, he’ll be alright’. I never thought he’d be THIS GOOD. Like, I was floored with how active he was in the show, and with the contestants, as he was always, in my opinion, the more passive member of Mitchell and Webb.

It helped that Webb was given the comedy goldmine of having Chris Packham on the show, and while Chris was an amazing sport, and a great guy to have on the show…the amount of animal-knobbing jokes beckoned, and Rob was there to help, as well as screw with Cee-Lo Green and Example. He was also dynamite in terms of material, giving some great reads off the prompter, and giving the entire room a belly-laugh after a Sinitta joke.

I’m impressed because I wasn’t expecting him to come out this strong, and he ends up completely ruling the show, and giving one of the strongest efforts from a branded comedian the show’s seen. Even Chris Packham would agree.

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#15- Ricky Wilson (Series 18 Episode 3)

In 2006, the Kaiser Chiefs were the biggest rock band in London, and Ricky Wilson was one of the best young guest panelists that Never Mind the Buzzcocks had to offer. Hosting the show was something of a foregone conclusion, but, as a lot of musicians jumping from guest to host has shown on this list, it doesn’t always go well. Luckily for Ricky Wilson, he managed to host one of the single greatest episodes to not be hosted by Mark Lamarr. And I don’t just say that lightly.

Ricky Wilson was in a fantastic mood that night, not only riding high off the Chiefs’ success, but because he was really jazzed to be hosting the show, and it SO SHOWED. There were several moments where he just flat out had conversations with people, like Colin Murray and Ryan Jarman, just shot the shit. He did eventually have a show to host, and while his reads weren’t PERFECT, he was definitely charismatic enough, and at the same time serious enough, to carry the show.

He was responsible for hosting while TWO classic runners popped up- Ryan Jarman claiming that he’d invented Live 8, and Phill’s entire team deciding to mail the show in and aim to end the show with 0 points. Ricky was stern on both accounts, screwing with Ryan, and playfully rolling his eyes at Phill, even as Phill BELTED OUT various Kaiser Chiefs songs (to which he added “you’ll soon run out of Kaiser Chiefs songs. We’ve only got one record….but we’re gonna DO another one…”)

Even better, Ricky was vulnerable, accidentally making a faux-pas about Stevie Wonder (‘yeah, sorry Stevie, if you’re watching…’), and still landing on his feet. He wasn’t perfect, but with the amount of fun he was having, and the amount of joy that was clearly present in the show, he didn’t need to be.

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#14- Richard Madeley (Series 26 Episode 8)

As good as morning-show presenter Lorraine Kelly was in the host’s chair, Richard Madeley was even better. Why? Because as dirty and vulnerable as Kelly was able to go…Richard Madeley went deeper, dirtier, and crazier, to the point where Phill summed it up by saying ‘I’m going to need counseling after this show’.

Richard’s strength was not only assembling the madness that was this show, featuring Seann Walsh and Andrew O’Neil, but contributing to it. He was great at talking back at the contestants, contributing to jokes, and just having a fun time with it all. He was also great at hosting, and had some great prepared jokes.

Now…where his hosting gig gains traction is his ability to defy expectations, by saying some of the filthiest, least-Madeley-esque things, most famously involving auto-fellatio by way of wheely-bin, but also involving his co-host Judy giving him head underneath the desk. The panel went into hysterics at how un-Madeley Madeley was being, and the fun continued solely because Madeley allowed himself to kick back and enjoy himself.

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#13- Terry Wogan (Series 24 Episode 4)

Terry Wogan is one of those gets that only happens every once in a blue moon. The guy is one of the most world-renowned presenters and TV personalities, singlehandedly engineering Children in Need and the Eurovision Song Contest, and he’s the kind of guy whose kind, yet intimidating, presence can light up a room. So having someone as HUGE and PROFESSIONAL as Terry Wogan host a least-common-denominator program like Buzzcocks is a risk. Here, thankfully, it paid off.

Terry took this grand, wonderful approach to everything, and while sometimes it didn’t pay off [his reads were often a bit too plummy], his general demeanor shone through the show, offhandedly saying to Rufus Hound ‘D’you know I had no idea when I met you…the depths of your depravity?’ After even more panel shenanigans, he just looked at the camera, and yelled ‘ENOUGH OF THIS…SOCIETY ENTERTAINMENT!’

Maybe it was the fact that Terry Wogan was being undermined by Rufus Hound talking about C3P0’s genitalia, or maybe it was just the way he said it, but I don’t think Phill ever laughed harder than he did immediately after that joke.

The marvel of Terry Wogan’s hosting appearance is that literally everything he did was funnier because of the concept of Terry Wogan doing it or saying it on a panel show. Terry’s offhanded wicked sense of humor shone through in numbers, elevating even the quietest of moments, and keeping the entire panel in a fantastic mood. Though you could tell he was a bit drained by the end, and though you could tell the insanity could overwhelm and confuse him, he responded like a true professional, and had a positively wonderful time of it.

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#12- Josh Groban (Series 24 Episode 10)

Josh Groban is living proof that people can have two sides in show business. One side can be the gracious, melodic, operatic singer that gets tons of sales at Christmas. The other side can be one of the most charismatic, all-out-funny people that Buzzcocks has ever had on, and his hosting appearance mixed the best of both worlds.

The main indicator of this show’s success was the mood everyone on the panel was in, especially Michael Ball and KT Tunstall, all having nice, ‘Grobanated’ moments throughout the show. Plus, having Ball on hand as Groban, who’s a big fan of his, got to host was a nice touch.

Look, I don’t think anybody knew it in 1996, but Buzzcocks was MADE for Josh Groban. The way he can interact with the panel, the way he can crack jokes, the way he can have really nice musical moments…that’s what the show had been clamoring for since its inception. Josh was quick, concise, had great judgment, and knew how to bring the best out in everyone, especially Tinchy Stryder.

His piece de resistance was the ending, where he and Michael Ball got to sing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. You could tell this was a childhood dream of his, and it came off as an incredibly sweet, and terrific music moment. The show wasn’t perfect, but Groban gave more charisma and enthusiasm to Buzzcocks than arguably any American ever has.

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#11- Warwick Davis (Series 27 Episode 10)

Another one of the well-planned Theme Shows, the Movies special, was hosted by the guy who’d been in so many hit movies without you even knowing it, as well as being an incredibly funny compadre to Ricky Gervais, the great Warwick Davis. I think a lot of people underestimate Warwick because of his size, when in reality he’s one of the nicest, and funniest, guys in showbiz, and it certainly showed in Buzzcocks.

Warwick did a very nice job of keeping the show together, and keeping the panel engaged, coming off as an incredibly strong proctor for a ton of big personalities, including Chris Ramsey, who Warwick even had a little pseudo-rivalry with throughout the show. He also was able to provide an exclusive, once-in-a-show-run experience, with a tiebreaker round and a bonus Willow stunt double of his in the ID Parade. So, really, instead of the producers tailoring the show to him, he basically did all the tailoring himself, and it really showed- he seemed like he was having a ball.

He was terrific off the cuff, knew when to be stern, and, more importantly, wasn’t afraid of short jokes. Plus, this was a show where the panel could have easily overtaken the host, especially with the ‘Squirrels Ate My Cake’ runner, and…it didn’t really happen. So Bravo to Warwick..

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#10- Kathy Burke (Series 26 Episode 1)

So…knowing how good Kathy Burke was on her Series 5 show, I was expecting something funny, but I wasn’t expecting her to roll out the best Series Premiere since the Mark era.

You could tell she was up to the challenge when early on, she accentuated a joke with a casual wink, and she got loads of applause for it…and then threatened to do that for every joke for the rest of the show. She was also so incredibly laid back, as per her character, that the show just had this raunchy, fun, spontaneous feel to it, like any moment there could be a fun, ridiculous moment. And with Mark Hoppus on the panel, who also shared Kathy’s off-the-cuff and dirty ideology, that’s what happened.

Most of Kathy’s material could have been cut from the same cloth as Mark Lamarr, even with an ‘I *SAY* ____’ joke in there. Kathy, luckily, was savage enough, and had this no-holds-barred attitude about her, that a great deal of the prompter jokes were sold instantly. But moreover, she was able to communicate with the contestants, especially Greg Rutherford, and be very off-the-cuff (even lampshading that Greg’s seat was supposed to be taken by Mo Farra).

Kathy Burke may not have, on paper, looked like the greatest NMTB host, but she fit SO WELL with the brand of dry, sick humor, and she hosted a hell of a show.

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#9- John Barrowman (Series 25 Episode 12)

Onto another host that seemed to infect the entire show with their brand of humor, only this one in a jollier, slightly gayer fashion.

John Barrowman’s another guy who was born for this show, being a natural performer and a guy who’s entertaining simply breathing. What makes his show, which had a few gay jokes, different from David Walliams’ is that Barrowman doesn’t use it as a gimmick. He kinda uses his musical theatre background more than he uses his gayness this show, though he does plant a smooch on both Jason Manford AND Phill Jupitus. He gave all his energy to making this not only a show to remember, but a Christmas show to remember, and all the hard work paid off.

The guy’s skills as a presenter impressed me, as his reads and jokes were spot on, and the way he collaborated with the panelists, especially both Jasons (Derulo and Manford). Plus, once he realized something pissed someone on the panel off, he decided to use it to his advantage in the most cheerily evil way possible, like Phill and his hatred of Mr. Blobby (Rhod would use this several times in S28 as well.) Honestly, you could see how much love he had for the show, and the spectacle of it.

Even in the last moments, he got everyone that was a part of the show, including the ID Parade guests, to join him center stage to sing Silent Night. John Barrowman wanted to make this the single most memorable Christmas show of the series…and he damn near succeeded, too, but there’s one that beats his…

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#8 – Bob Mortimer (Series 26 Episode 12)

Now let me explain myself.

I just said so many great things about Barrowman’s Christmas show, the spectacle, the moment, the everything. So why, pray tell, does Bob Mortimer’s show, which pulled out less stops and was less grand, rank higher? Just look at Bob’s face. Bob Mortimer is capable of making literally any program he’s on the most fun time anyone’s gonna have. He did this back in his first appearance on Buzzcocks in S1, and he did this in his Guest Captain bit…but without the use of mistletoe, musical numbers or theatrics, Bob Mortimer was able to create the most fun environment this series ever had (save for a fellow coming up in a few spots).

Bob’s bizarre humor took full hold during the show, allowing for some bizarre Christmas anecdotes and crackers. The guy had a rolodex full of old-school keyboard sound effects that he kept throwing in to crack people up, and some of his jokes, and his ID Parade names, did enough to keep people laughing for HOURS. Plus, as host, he was able to second-guess contestants, screw with them, and yell keyboard noises at them.

The patron saint of this round was the entire Next Lines round, because everybody was already really happy and giggly, but the joke answers people were giving were insanely inspired. Plus, Noel and Bob’s dynamic was wonderful, both as weird comics, and both would crack each other up throughout the night.

So while, in a perfect world, both shows would be even, the Bob show slightly has the edge for just being insanely fun and ridiculous without trying too hard to be.

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#7 – Peter Andre (Series 27 Episode 3)

He sings. He dances. He takes off his shirt. He hosts. He smiles. He trains. He toilets. He celebrities. Yet despite all that, heading towards Peter Andre’s episode, I was fearing a dud. Why? Because like James Blunt, in my head I figured that someone that’d become a punchline also had to be a not-great person as well.

Well, look. Peter Andre, like James Blunt, knows exactly who he is. And he’s able to make fun of himself, as well as take a joke about himself. Literally moment one of the show, he’s coming in with his entire camera crew from his reality show, trying to document his hosting gig from both angles. If he was actually a stuck-up prick, he wouldn’t make a big thing of it at the top of the show. Even as a b-rate singer, he knows how to entertain people.

Peter’s hosting skills were great, and he was able to appeal to everyone without coming off like he was pandering. However, you can sum up Peter’s hosting gig with one song…Insania. When the song played in in Intros, Peter just waited for it to stop…and then he became visibly frustrated…and then the entire panel started dancing to the song.

Even funnier was the full ‘Insania’ round, which started with a full two minutes of Abbott-and-Costello-esque prattling between Peter and Noel (“Who am I?” “PETER!” “YES.”) The humor in this is the fact that Peter Andre is SO INTO HOSTING THE SHOW, and the charisma is SO SHOWING…and yet Noel, and Ana Matronic are BREAKING HIM. And there are moments where he just winces to the camera, but he’s doing it for the show, and he’s doing it for the experience. The whole ‘who am I’ but went on for so long, but only because Peter committed to it. Heck, Peter even brought out Bubbla Ranks, his ‘Mysterious Girl’ collaborator, for ID Parade, and for some of Intros, which is a great use of using your hosting cred to sweeten the pot.

So no matter how much Peter Andre squirmed, winced, or rolled his eyes, you could tell how much he wanted this show to be success, and how much effort he put in to entertain everyone.

Peter, exasperated: “…who am I?”
Tony Law: “…one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, frankly…”

(ironically, we go from Peter Andre to the guy that completely obliterated him on Mock the Week…)

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#6- Greg Davies (Series 25 Episode 6)

This show must have been a present sent from the Gods for Greg Davies. Not only did he have ‘H’ from Steps, not only did he have Frankie Boyle and Holly Walsh onhand, and not only did he have the offensively dumb Amy Childs in the building…but he had Tinchy Stryder, the guy basically half his height, on his show. The amount of comedic possibilities in that equation is endless, and damn if Greg didn’t milk it for all it was worth.

The thing that stands out is just how Greg absolutely MASTERED this show. He’s probably one of the most active hosts the show’s ever had, because every second of gameplay, he was collaborating with the panel, and making jokes with, and at, them. Plus, he engineered an entire runner around objects being small to him, and GIANT to Tinchy, which worked every goddamned time. Even when Greg and Tinchy had to go over to the ID Parade together, and you could see the insane height difference, it was still ridiculously funny.

Height jokes aside, Greg was insanely active in the game, and in most of the runners. When Frankie and Amy Childs were having their ‘vajazzling’ discussion, Greg absolutely had to keep it going. Greg was also great at fueling Frankie’s fire, having worked with him on MTW a few times. Additionally, the entire joke that Tinchy measures monetary amounts in ‘range rovers’ couldn’t have kept going without Greg needling Tinchy about it.

Greg was also naturally hysterical, both off the cuff and off the prompter, and was able to control the chaos of all the personalities by keeping the game running smoothly. And yet there are five spots ahead of Greg, which means that as top-to-bottom amazing Greg Davies was, there were five hosts that did better.

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#5 – Dermot O’Leary (Series 23 Episode 10)

Dermot O’Leary is responsible for hosting the single most fun episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks of all time. It’s very rare that people leave without any animosity, or without even demented, snarky jokes being hurled at them, but this was honestly one of the safest, most peaceful environments for a NMTB episode, and you’d be lying if you say that’s not Dermot’s fault.

This was a long time coming for Dermot, who’d done one quiet appearance during the Mark era, and one personality-laden-yet-still-lower-key appearance during the Simon era. The guy started off the show with a group hug (featuring a Mariah Carey song that wouldn’t shut off properly), and interspersed the show with Peter Dickson excitedly announcing the names of the panelists (and some of the rounds), which played either post-punchline [‘PHILL JUPITUS!’] or at the behest of a contestant who wanted to geek out [‘RUSSELL TOVEY!’].

Dermot’s strength, probably learned in his time as a presenter, is he knew when to be passive, like when he allowed David O’Doherty and Noel to go on about fake panda facts, and when to be active, like when he willed JLS’ Aston Merrygold to do a backflip center stage. He also was loose enough to have a personality through his reads and jokes, and interacted with both panels, making sure everyone got screen-time and awesome moments.

By the end of the show, Michael Ball and Phill were giggling to each other, and everyone was in a fantastic mood. That’s not a ‘good show’ detriment- that’s the sign of an amazing host.

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#4 – Martin Freeman (Series 23 Episode 8)

I think, out of everyone who hosted the show in this era, Martin Freeman’s career aged the best. I mean this because when he hosted, he was famous for being on The Office, and doing some minor stuff…and as of right now he’s starred in all three Hobbit movies, he’s part of the MCU, he’s been on Fargo, he’s hosted Saturday Night Live, and he’s best known for playing John Watson on Sherlock. Most of this career-defining stuff happened after this episode. So to say this show aged well, especially considering how well Freeman did, is an overstatement.

Martin’s been portrayed as this sort of composed, stick-up-his-ass type in everything he’s been in, so to see him cut loose and throw Lamarr-style insults at Dappy and Charlie Brooker was refreshing, as well as throwing in a few of his trademark eye-rolls. He was a fantastic proctor, capable of screwing with teams when they were unable to get an answer, or more likely just screwing with Dappy when he couldn’t get all of a Next Line. He also used his professional sort of persona to make everything he said come off as genuine, even if he was taking the mick.

The thing is, I would have ranked him highly had he just been a fantastic, Mark-esque host. But what brings him up to #4 is the way he handled a certain incident on the show, where Dappy made a crack at a rather overweight member of the ID Parade…which caused Phill, in jest, to walk off.

I compare this one to the Clarkson show because, unlike just giving Phill shit about it as he went offstage, Martin was able to stay genuine, and convince Dappy that he’d legitimately just insulted Phill Jupitus, all while joining Charlie in screwing with him. He just kept this persona of ‘oh no, how could someone do this’, when all the while Phill was probably just taking a piss break, laughing his ass off. Martin absolutely sold the event, and clearly defined the side the audience should take (read: against Dappy), while still sort of trying to keep the show going, and to entertain the crap out of everyone in the room that wasn’t Dappy.

A lesser host couldn’t have handled that incident like Martin Freeman did. He took what could have been a chaotic moment and absolutely owned it, making it look like Dappy was the real victim. And to be fair, the bloke kinda deserved it.

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#3- Russell Howard (Series 27 Episode 2)

I imagine there is a difference between ‘not liking Russell Howard’ and ‘not liking Russell Howard on Mock the Week’. Because honestly, I think the latter bit is where most of the backlash has come from. Russell’s a fantastic stand-up, and has built a career on being an incredible improviser and comedian, but his material on Mock the Week, especially in comparison to Hugh Dennis and Frankie Boyle, definitely is kind of lackluster. I think he’s gotten more love as a stand-up because he’s in a medium he’s more used to.

To that end, hosting Never Mind the Buzzcocks may have worked out better for Russell than 5 years of Mock the Week did. Because Russell may have been the closest resemblance to Mark Lamarr from anyone on this era, and Russell probably gave the greatest audition for a long-term tenure as host.

The second he began, it felt like he’d done this show a million times before. Obviously Good News and Stand-Up Central had primed him for this, as his prompter-reading and audience-reading skills were already on par with the best. Also, the guy wasn’t selfish. If he was gonna make jokes, he was gonna collaborate with the whole panel, which was one of his strengths on MTW.

His biggest moments came from screwing with the panelists, in particular, Stacey Solomon and Lethal Bizzle. But HOW he screwed with them is what sets him apart from the pack. With Stacey, he took her offhanded impression of a sea-lion and turned it into an entire David Attenborough special, where he talks about animals and Stacey just does the impressions of them (i.e. “HERE WE HAVE THE MIGHTY BEAR. STACEY?”) I’ve mentioned this roughly a billion times on this blog, but it made me laugh so hard that it’s worth mentioning over and over again. Plus, with Lethal, he screwed him over his use of the term DENCH, even bringing up specific tweets (including the one that ended in ‘Hashtag Fannys’). Still, with all this teasing, I don’t think anybody left the show legitimately hating him.

He didn’t have to do anything flashy, he just hosted the show, and had some really funny material at the expense of the panelists, and just in general. Russell Howard truly impressed me in that regard, and that’s why he gets to be #3.

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#2 – Richard Ayoade (Series 26 Episode 7)

Sometimes someone gives such a tonal jolt to the show that you can’t help but ignore them. This almost happened with Simon’s ‘Family Friendly’ episode, where he tried to veer the show back into safe humor (while still having Alexei Sayle and Jack Dee on the program), but it still fell short due to Simon’s cheeky-bastard sensibilities.

Richard Ayoade came on the show, and announced up front that there would be no jokes in this episode. Likewise, he delivered one of the funniest shows in recent memory, yet he still stayed true to his word. How? Well, Richard Ayoade can literally make anything funny given the right context, and the right deadpan.

In that regard, Ayoade was perfect to host the show. He never once broke out of his droll, deadpan character, and strung the entire show along to be factual, and interesting, rather than funny. Of course this was meant in semi-jest, but Ayoade made damn sure that he looked like he was serious, going so far as reading odd facts about musical genres throughout the show, and inciting theoretical discussion whenever possible. He made the show funny through anti-humor, through subverting the expectations of the audience and giving a completely different kind of humor than what the show is known for. And in an era when the show went more broad than sophisticated in terms of humor, this was welcome.

Richard’s crowning achievement was taking an offhanded comment by guest Ed Sheeran, spinning it, and spending the entire rest of the show berating him about it. It started off as innocently as Ed saying he passes out after sex, and Richard went further, turning the whole show on his head and completely embarrassing Ed Sheeran…even after he elaborated further and further. Like the Freeman show, a lesser host wouldn’t know how to react, but Richard just used his utter confusion and multiplied it, transferring it to the entire panel, and eventually the audience.

He was also quick on his feet, and able to improvise around a stumble without breaking character, and he hosted the show so swiftly and adeptly that it felt like he’d been trained in it.

Richard Ayoade, as Buzzcocks host, was a stone wall, in that nothing fazed him, nothing got past him, and he just built on himself and got stronger as the show went on.

So, after all that, you’ve probably done the math and figured out who #1 is. If you’ve read the blog, you shouldn’t be too shocked.

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#1- Frankie Boyle (Series 23 Episode 11 & Series 24 Episode 10)

To a lot of people, this would be a lot like saying Cape Feare’s the best episode of the Simpsons, or that Goldfinger’s the best James Bond movie. Like, yeah…but that’s WAY too obvious? Do something risky, do something unusual! And to be honest, I came close to putting Ayoade at #1…but I couldn’t. I couldn’t not put Frankie Boyle at 1st place.

Frankie Boyle is the single funniest guest host this era ever had. Yes, you say, but Greg Davies was really funny! How come Frankie gets the top spot and Greg doesn’t? Well…Frankie borrowed a bit of ‘unfazeable’ material from Richard Ayoade. In both of his hosting appearances, he had some moments where he could have cracked, where he could have made an easy comment, and he came back with something incredible.

For instance:
Carol Vorderman: “Are you on Facebook, Frankie?”
Frankie: “I am.”
Carol: “What’s your Facebook name?”
Frankie: “….Frankie Boyle?”
[The audience takes a moment to laugh at this.]
Frankie: “…to be honest, Carol, I’d heard you were smarter than this…”

or even:
Frankie: “Yeah, Dappy, now HE’s a muppet…”
Professor Green: “That wasn’t very nice..”
Frankie, IMMEDIATELY: “I’m not a very nice man…Glad I could clear that up for you.”
Michelle Williams: “That’s not true, I think you ARE a nice man.”
Frankie, IMMEDIATELY: “Well, watch this…”

This is the kind of dialogue comedy writers DREAM OF. Frankie’s just so amazing at just knowing the exact right shit to say, not even taking a moment of thinking of it. When Andy Parsons made a joke about him on ‘Scenes We’d Like to See’, Frankie was literally walking onto the stage JUST AS ANDY WAS LEAVING. HE ALREADY HAD THE JOKE THOUGHT UP. IT TOOK, LIKE 2 SECONDS.

With all of that said about Frankie, did he deliver, on BOTH his shows? Yes, he did indeed. His first show was great, as he was able to deliver phenomenal lines, some polished proctoring, and some really nice Carol Vorderman slams. You could tell he was a fan of the show, and a fan of music, and was pretty cheery to be honest, while giving his trademark amount of Michael Jackson jokes and AIDS slams.

His second show was the one that singlehandedly convinced me that I needed to do a watchdown for this show. Just from the way that Goldie spent the entire episode with his gold-plated teeth against the desk, laughing so hard, you could tell how outstanding that episode was. Frankie was able to screw with Professor Green, Goldie AND Michelle Williams throughout the show, to the point where I’m honestly surprised Michelle still liked him by the end. As dominant as he was in Show 1, he was even stronger in his second show, giving one of the funniest episodes I’ve ever seen, and never once breaking a sweat or not knowing what to say. And this episode had shit that could even render Richard Ayoade speechless, especially the ‘dotty bitch’ that showed up in ID Parade.

The best part of all this is that Frankie Boyle was able to comply with BBC standards, was still able to not really filter himself, and had a tremendous time both times. And he did so well that the producers asked him to fill in for Phill the very next series, which led to ANOTHER funny episode.

Simply put, Frankie Boyle crafted two of the funniest episodes of Buzzcocks of all time, and did so not only brutally, but professionally. To me, he is the greatest Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host of all time, and if he had ended up hosting the show full-time, I would have collapsed in joy.

So, those are my Guest Host rankings. You may not agree with them, but I had a ton of fun writing this up. Next up, I’m probably gonna rank some of my favorite recurring panelists. Hopefully those lists will take a smidge less effort.

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Ever Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host, Ranked (Part Two)

When last we met, we counted down the bottom 19 Guest Hosts in Buzzcocks history, ranging from good-intending-but-badly-executed (like Alex James) to absolutely atrocious in every way (like Tim Westwood).

Today, we’ll tackle #s 40-21, the middle of the road section of the countdown. If you’d like guidelines for the ranking, check the previous post. We’re heading right into things here:

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#40- Sara Cox (Series 27 Episode 4)

We begin this stretch of the countdown with another radio/tv presenter who, despite some enthusiasm, couldn’t really distinguish herself from the rest of the pack. Sara Cox has always been a charismatic choice for Buzzcocks, giving a really smiley performance in Series 5, and graduating to give intros to Adam Ant in Series 28. So to say that she fit on Buzzcocks was an understatement. Her hosting gig wasn’t all that memorable, though it wasn’t really her fault as much as it fell on the shoulders of guest Iggy Azalea, whose antics and demeanor were the subject of lampoon and jokes from the entire panel. Sara couldn’t really compete with Phill and Noel for the Iggy jokes, so decided to just host a ship-shape show, which, to her credit, she did. Again, great personality, but by default she falls into the ‘anyone could have hosted this show’ category.

#39- Jeremy Clarkson (Series 18 Episode 5)

I tried to keep personal bias out of this one, as I’m not particularly fond of Mr. Clarkson, so I tried to put myself in the eyes of someone who, god forbid, does enjoy his work. Would a Top Gear fan, or Clarkson fan, have enjoyed Clarkson’s NMTB bit? Well…no, not really. While this was a very funny show, and while Clarkson was allowed to be himself and snipe at Antony Costa, you could tell there was a great dissonance between the material prepared for Clarkson and the mood Clarkson showed up in. It’s not always very obvious that Buzzcocks’ jokes are written by other people, but here more than anywhere else they just stood out, perhaps due to Clarkson’s plummy, shit-eating delivery of them.

But that’s honestly not the reason he’s this low. He’s also responsible for some generally murky editing around the last half of the show. To this day, for the life of me, I’m not sure if Phill walked off because of Clarkson, and if he really meant it. All I know is that once intros started, Phill wasn’t his jovial self, and was letting Antony Costa fly through the Intros. Then, mid-round, he got up and left, without any real reason given. He just left. And from the crack Clarkson had about a minute later, saying that Phill was already at a fish-and-chip shop, I’m not being given any reason to believe it WASN’T Clarkson’s doing. So I’m left with a hard-to-watch last half of an episode that was fun for some of the wrong reasons.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 3.22.55 PM.png#38- Catherine Tate (Series 24 Episode 2)

After putting forth one of the single most baffling appearances on the show from someone not named Bill Oddie, Catherine Tate’s hosting gig was thought as an odd choice from me going into Series 24, but after the Mark Ronson show, I was hoping for anything that was slightly coherent. Surprisingly Catherine was the coherent one, playing off her ‘am I bovvered’ catchphrase, leading a relatively ship-shape show, and having a great deal of fun. But ironically the incoherency came from Noel Fielding’s team, dubbed ‘Team Fuzzy’, featuring a jet-lagged Tulisa from N-Dubz, and a perpetually glazed Howard Marks. So it’s equally ironic to say that I remember more about the antics of Team Fuzzy, especially with Phill screwing with Howard, than I remember about the host, the lady who confused the shit out of Bernard Cribbins the year before. Again, nothing too terrible, but when you’re drowned out by Howard Marks, you’ve got to do something better.

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#37- James Corden (Series 23 Episode 1)

I’m gonna start this writeup by saying that I don’t hate James Corden as much as everybody else does. Everybody in the UK’s probably sick of him, because he presented everything over there and wasn’t terribly funny, and Frankie Boyle wants him to kill himself. I…think he’s fine? I like The Late Late Show, I think Carpool Karaoke is a good concept, and I liked when he hosted the Tonys. His mindset is just having fun and making the best out of something dark, and I can totally respect that. Literally in the first seconds of the show, he brought up the elephant in the room, Simon Amstell, and said that this wasn’t gonna be another mean era of the show, which I thought was awfully nice.

The rest of the show Corden hosted…was okay. Not good, not bad. Okay. He didn’t do a great deal of envelope-pushing, but he didn’t need to. Obviously he knew how to read an autocue, and obviously he was good at interacting with the panel, but overall nothing really stood out on his show, save for Corden’s eternally jolly demeanor. It’s hard to believe Corden was the first guest host after the Amstell era, and while he didn’t start things with a bang, he at least gave an inoffensive, harmless entry into the canon.

Ironically, we move from the first ever guest host of the ‘era’ to the LAST ever guest host of the era, and someone who’s the exact opposite of safe and inoffensive.

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#36- JOHNNY VEEEEGAS, (SEEERIES TWENT-EH SEVUNN, EPISOOODE THIIIIHTEEN!)

Well. Somebody gave Johnny some booze, didn’t they.

I’ve always been on the fence about Johnny Vegas’ character, because on one hand, he’s this loud, boorish, obnoxious character, but on the other hand, there’s something very childlike and innocent about him, and the latter bit has been winning out a lot on QI. I never particularly enjoyed him on Buzzcocks, though, as he’d always be rather loud, esoteric, and take away from the quiz too much.

The Christmas show he hosted was, uh…wild. Absolutely wild. Johnny was visibly drunk, he would go into digressions that I’m still unsure of whether or not they were intentional, and he was kind of compromised as a host, giving semi-intentionally bad prompter readings, and nearly screwing up the hole show by handing Phill’s team the entire envelope of Next Lines…and then taking another 5 minutes to sulk about it.

The reason why he’s not so much lower is that while he was disastrous on the show, there was still something truly entertaining about it that kept the whole thing from being a ‘Johnny’s drunk, this is really unwatchable’ kind of thing, like the Amy Winehouse show or the Bonnie Tyler show. He was having a great time, and he’d go on emotional tangents for the camera which I think were intentional, and made the whole thing entertaining, in addition to bizarre.  So obviously his episode was flawed, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

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#35- Tinie Tempah (Series 25 Episode 9)

In terms of rappers hosting the show, I think of someone who did pretty well, like Example, and someone who couldn’t break out of his funk, like Dizzee Rascal. I put Scunthorpe-obsessed Tinie Tempah somewhere in the middle. On one hand, you could see his personality there, and you could see he was trying to have fun, especially playing the Scunthorpe card, and plopping a giant bag of placenta on the desk, to the horror of the panelists. But on the other, some of his reads weren’t great, he took a passive approach to hosting, and didn’t have many cards to rely on in terms of material (hence the overreliance on Scunthorpe.) So while he was definitely enthusiastic, he fell short of lapping Example (who was on the panel that night), but the show could still be carried by the panel (and oh, what a weird show it was…)

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#34- David Walliams (Series 23 Episode 9)

With the amount of prestige and acclaim David Walliams has gotten, and the fact that he’s generally well-liked by the public, I was kinda surprised how much of a let-down his show was. The main joke running through the show was how gay David was (even though we know now that he’s bisexual), and he was sort of playing this up throughout the show, even using world-renowned motion capture actor Andy Serkis for a cheap anal-sex joke. He also just essentially flirted with Gareth Malone and Basshunter the whole show. I mean, there was a lot of good energy stuff here, and I definitely think David’s a nice rudimental host, but a lot of his material hit the same notes for me, and couldn’t really be elevated above ‘okay.’

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#33- Elvis Presley (or Eamonn Holmes) (Series 27 Episode 6)

I’ve been going over in my head whether or not the Elvis thing was a show-long gimmick. I mean, I honestly think Eamonn just wanted to dress up like Elvis, didn’t have a ton of Elvis-shoehorning into the rest of the show, and this doesn’t really feel like the ‘Elvis’ show, to me. So it’s not a gimmick. Eamonn just wanted to dress up like Elvis, which he’s more than capable of doing.

Other than some rudimentary stuff, Eamonn didn’t really interact with too many of the panelists, and mostly stuck to his guns, which is why he’s down here, but I’d like to point out that his hosting skills were excellent (obviously, as all those years on GMTV trained him correctly). Additionally…the prompter jokes they gave Eamonn were some of the most savage, hysterical jokes in a while. Unlike the Clarkson show, it felt like Eamonn was perfectly game with the material, even if it included a fat joke at his expense, and a LETHAL Anthea Turner slam. He was insanely game with the script for the night, almost as if he helped write it. So while he wasn’t the perfect host, his skills in front of the prompter were top notch, and that’s what puts him above Walliams for me.

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#32- Alex Horne (and his Horne Section) (Series 26 Episode 9)

This booking I will give the producers some credit for. On one of the foremost music institutions in the UK, having Alex Horne and his entire jazz ensemble host the show was a fantastic choice. The Intros round playbacks had band renditions instead of play-ins, and the Next Lines round had the band do the prompt, and required the panelists to sing back the Next Lines, leading to an adorable, impressive moment from Paloma Faith.

The interludes didn’t always work- in the middle of a conversation about olympic gymnast Louis Smith, the band improvised a song about Louis in action, which, while a great idea in question, took away some much-needed quiz time. These digressions weren’t always great, but the band was a great innovation for the show.

Again, like the Catherine Tate show, I don’t remember a ton about Alex’s hosting, charismatic as it was, because the show was taken over by Team Abstract, featuring Paloma Faith and Tony Law, two of the most bonkers panelists the show’s ever had. Most of their antics made up the show, instead of Alex Horne’s hosting. So while Horne and his section made for a great show, his hosting skills took a backseat to some panel action, which, while not a bad thing, takes away from what could have been a higher ranking.

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#31- Michael Bolton (Series 27 Episode 8)

Sometimes an episode-long theme actually fits a host’s strengths, and this is no more evident than getting Michael Bolton, post-Lonely-Island-aided Boltonaissiance, to host the ‘Sexy Special’, complete with over-the-top mountain for Bolton to stand on, and Shane Filan to teach everybody how to stand sexily.

Look, Bolton’s strengths were obviously not in reading from a prompter, as some of his reads were kind of wooden and unnatural. Additionally, he’d get something wrong, like assigning a song to the ‘Kaiser Chefs’ (cue Seann Walsh going ‘WHAT’S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL, IT IS A BLENDER!’). So while he wasn’t the most mentally prepared for the show (maybe attributed to slight jet-lag), he still worked his charm when he could, and was still fully aware of his status as not only a sex symbol but a pop culture punchline. And yeah, he was capable of singing sexily anytime he wanted, leading to a great moment of, on Seann and Phill’s request, singing ‘IT’S NOOOOOT ANAL DAAAANGERR…”

So he was game, he was himself, but as a host he was lacking a bit. Still made for a great show, though.

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#30- Example (Series 26 Episode 2)

Directly in the middle of the countdown is an appearance from E.G., a guy who was a panelist a bunch of times, and always seemed to have a really good time. As host…yeah, he was pretty good. I don’t have a ton to say about him, as he kept the game going well, interacted with the panel well, and came off like he was happy to be there. Granted, he was tied to a ‘And the Love Kick Starts Again’ runner, between Gareth Malone and Wretch 32, which, by the umpteenth rendition, had Gareth literally banging his head on the desk in frustration.

Still, Example kept the main bulk of the humor to the panelists, and thank god- Rufus Hound, Wretch and Gareth made this one of the filthiest shows on record, thanks to a ton of jokes involving soldiers’ wives and pantomime horses. Example, to his credit, joined in on the fun in addition to keeping the game going.

So yeah: Example is pretty much the standard for guest hosting. A perfect example, if you will.

#29: Huey Morgan (Series 18 Episode 6)

Before the mug-smashing incident, and after the show where he came to set high off a number of narcotics, Huey, the smooth MC, hosted a show in Series 18, as a friend of Mark’s. Was he a good host? No. His reads weren’t great, he screwed up a bunch of his lines, and wasn’t THE greatest at keeping the game going. BUT…off the cuff, Huey was absolutely hysterical. In messing up a line, he kept giving uncensored takes of a joke about Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, because he was really passionate on the subject. He also had a ton of jokes about himself being secretly gay, and even more about a New Jersey weatherman taking on England. The stuff he improvised, and the amount of fun he was HAVING as well as IMPARTING onto the panelists (especially Phill) more than made up for his lack of mechanics as a host.

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#28- Tim Minchin (Series 24 Episode 6)

Slightly disappointing seeing as Tim’s one of the more fun panelists and personalities of this middle-era of the show, but ultimately worth it being that it’s Tim bluddy Minchin hosting Buzzcocks. I like the fact that he was able to work off of pretty much everyone on the panel- fellow aussie Jason Donovan on his right, and fellow weird musician, and fellow weird comedian, Paloma Faith and Tim Key on his left. He had plenty of material on them all, even a little screwing with Tim in Intros.

Even better, Tim donated his piano talents to the Intros round, as he gave both teams a ‘Tim’ card, saying he’d help them out with a piano rendition of the intro in question, which was a great touch. His jokes, and autocue reading, take him down a few pegs, as well as the quality of the ongoing ‘bow and arrow’ joke directed at DJ Target. He could have done better, but I’m still quite happy this show happened.

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#27- Alice Cooper (Series 25 Episode 7)

Alice Cooper is probably the NMTB producers’ greatest triumph- not only getting him to come on back in Series 14 and joke around with Mark Lamar, but getting the so-called Prince of Darkness back to host in Series 25. Ohhh, let me tell you, the opening moments of the show were followed by a great deal of geeking out on my end. Then, I saw Alice Cooper the man, rather than Alice Cooper the performer, do his greatest strength- amidst the black smoke and lightning, he grew a goofy smile, and, like the uncle who’d just made a toast at a wedding, semi-pathetically asked everyone to ‘siddown’.

Alice Cooper’s strength is his ability to be, you know, ALICE COOPER, while at the same time, still be able to come off as a normal dude from the midwest. In hosting the show, this really came off well- he wielded his rock cred with a smile and grin, and quizzed the panel on the name of his new album as a twist. But still, he came off as one of the nicest guys in rock’n’roll, and even managed to throw in his Elvis story, which I’d heard before, but was even funnier when surrounded by Noel and Phill.

Still, some of the prompter reads needed some work, and Alice wasn’t a terribly active administrator, but I didn’t care. He was ALICE COOPER- he could be as good as he wanted to be.

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#26- Jack Dee (Series 24 Episode 3 & Series 25 Episode 2)

The trouble you can get with bringing someone back a second time is that they can back away from what made them great the first time and instead stick to what’s easy, and hand in a less-than-favorable result. And that, sadly, applies to the eternally-dour Jack Dee.

Jack’s first go-around was fantastic, thanks to the influence of a certain pair of Irish chipmunks to send Jack into a near-tailspin for most of the show, and give him enough comedic fodder to remain grumpy for the entire show. Jack can read off the prompter well, and like we saw in his Guest Panelist show, he’s very savvy and inclusive when he needs to be, sort of behind the guise of this character. He didn’t reinvent the wheel, but his hosting skills were outshone by his ability to work off the cuff and keep screwing with Jedward and the rest of the panelists.

The problem he had in the 2nd show was that he didn’t really have a natural source of grumpiness, and the show had to center the show around Jack being grumpy, complete with digressions and prop-related asides that fell flat. It felt manufactured, rushed, and fake, and while Jack did the best he could to still give funny moments, he was dwarfed by the production team’s intervention…when they clearly didn’t need to intervene.

Jack’s a great talent, and had a great first show, but the weak quality of his first show pulled him down a tad farther than I would have liked.

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#25- Adam Buxton (Series 25 Episode 4)

Adam Buxton’s hosting tenure was responsible for one bit I really, really hated…and another bit that makes me laugh to this date. The fact that he’s #25 on the countdown means that the second one won out a little bit.

Adam was another victim of the show tailoring the specific episode to the host in Series 25. Between every round, Adam sang a self-written jingle, describing the next round, done in a specific style. I…did not like this. Not one bit. I do love the fact that they were all written by Buxton, and the fact that he was really into it, but I felt like it took too much away from the quiz, and since Adam hadn’t really made a big deal about being a radio personality on his prior 2 shows, it was sort of an odd angle to go about. So, love the ambition, hate the execution.

His other innovation was the final round, where, instead of Next Lines, he’d read Youtube comments left on videos featuring the panel (and other vids), and asked them to fill in the blank. In concept, I wasn’t too pleased, but once this round got going…oh dear lord, I was in tears. The second he started imitating the voice of commenter ‘GerryBaboona’, who said, on the subject of magician Dynamo, ‘DIS GUY MUST BE AN ALIEN OR SUTIN’, and going off on a bit there, I was gone. And the round just got funnier and funnier from there.

Adam’s hosting abilities were great, and he, for the most part, knew how to keep people engaged. I took away some points for the jingles, but I think he was a terrific host.

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#24- Nick Grimshaw (Series 26 Episode 4)

Nick Grimshaw had a pretty difficult task lined up for him- not only did he have to host Buzzcocks, but he had to host one of the most ambitious themed-Buzzcocks shows in years. The ‘Hey Mr. DJ’ show, which features ample screen-time for guests Pat Sharp, Tony Blackburn and Mike Read (all three Buzzcocks royalty, by the way), was engineered to have a new element to the game, and be even more live and innovative than the rest of the show. So while Grimshaw didn’t exactly succeed with flying colors, he did a pretty nice job of keeping the ship tight.

He was great at engineering the soundboard of DJ sounds, and knowing when to hand it off to the three guests, as well as keeping the DJ element present and including them when necessary. He was also great at reading the prompter and keeping some guests into the mix. The one flaw of his is that he wasn’t always there to bring humor right off the bat, as he was a bit preoccupied with things, but luckily Nancy Dell’Olio was on hand to provide several cc’s of unintentional humor, and Fred Macpherson and Joe Lycett were there to spin the humor back onto her. So, honestly, having Nick not really be the funniest guest host wasn’t really a problem, as the show was insanely funny anyway.

A solid start from the so-called ‘Savior of Buzzcocks’, especially considering the workload he was given.

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#23- John Hannah (Series 27 Episode 1)

Admittedly, John Hannah was a very odd choice to host the series premiere of Buzzcocks. He’d been a character actor for years, most famously appearing as the gay widower in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but he’d never really been a spotlight type, so even he admitted he was an odd choice. However, the first second of Hannah’s energy, charisma, and exuberance, I kinda knew we were gonna be alright.

Hannah’s show was essentially Tennant lite. He had a good show, was great at interacting with the panel and reading from the prompter. Plus, his actor cred shone through a few times, during a bit where, as a Kiss song played, he mimed passing a blunt to Phill’s panel. The whole time he just seemed really happy to be there, which I love.

The big moment that vexes me happened in Next Lines, where John recited lines from his speech at the end of Four Weddings, next to a picture of the deceased professor. It vexes me because I’m not sure whether or not the producers booked him JUST BECAUSE of Four Weddings, and just because that moment was gonna happen. Either way, the panelists’ way of reacting was friggin’ hysterical, especially Noel’s addition of ‘My Sharona’.

So John Hannah, despite not being anyone’s first choice to host a great show, hosted a great show. Just not quite memorable enough to top this piece of Buzzcocks royalty at #22…

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#22- Jonathan Ross (Series 18, Episode 1)

Wossy was, in fact, the very first guest host that Buzzcocks ever had, and he was vocal about the fact that he did the show as a favor to Mark Lamarr, who, at that point, was only taking a break due to mental exhaustion (or Toyah exhaustion). To say that Ross was a natural for the job was an understatement- he’d been appearing on the show since the beginning, and knew the exact beats Mark hit as host. He spent some time screwing with Tom from McFly, rolled his eyes at the antics of Bill Bailey and Teddy Mitchell (or Bill and Ted), and kept the game rolling, though stopping to make his usual amount of fun, quick-paced digressions. Said digressions aren’t really for me, and made the show kind of hard to edit, as the first round squeezed Intros-to-Next Lines into the 2nd half of the broadcast. So in terms of hosting and keeping the emphasis on the quiz, he wasn’t great…but in terms of everything else, he was Jonathan Ross hosting Buzzcocks, and it went exactly was well as you would have thought.

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#21- Frank Skinner (Series 23 Episode 5)

Frank Skinner was responsible for guesting on a supremely good Series 5 episode…another really nice Series 6 episode, and being the best Guest Captain of Series 22. So I had no doubt in my mind that he’d be a fantastic host, and while he didn’t completely outdo my expectations, not well enough to land in the Top 20, he still managed to host a bang-up show, and was able to be himself.

Frank’s best stuff came from screwing with panelist Tinchy Stryder over his height, his fame, and ‘de knickaz’. He was very fun off-the-cuff, reacting to the panel like Mark would, and keeping the show going like Mark would. He’s also responsible for one of my favorite callbacks in the show’s history. Jon Richardson’s constant guess for Intros was ‘Winds of Change’, by the Scorpions, so Frank was able to get lyrics from that song into Next Lines…and Jon couldn’t get it!

Honestly, what keeps Frank out of the top 20 was the fact that, with the exception of the things i mentioned, I can’t remember a ton about his episode. He was obviously a fantastic host, with some funny material, but the folks in the Top 20 gave me a little more to take away than Frank did, not to disparage him whatsoever.

So, those are the Middle 20. Expect the Top 20 very soon, and expect the #1 spot to be fairly obvious if you’ve been reading the blog.

Every Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host, Ranked (Part One)

I’ve got a few different ways of wrapping up the ubiquitous Nevermind Watchdown planned for the next few days. I figured since this one only refers to a specific timeline of Buzzcocks history, I’d start with that one. So, we’re gonna count down every single person who’s ever guest-hosted an episode, from the bottom to the top.

Several criteria have been taken into account, including hosting skills, funny material, the overall quality of the episode, and the memorability/repetition. So if you were a host who ran a shipshape panel show, made a ton of great jokes, hosted a fantastic episode and came back for an equally great appearance, you’re probably gonna rank highly. People who’ve hosted multiple songs will be subjected to an average- so if you hosted one fantastic show and one terrible show, the average might drag you down a bit. Or, in the case of a certain Mr. Whitehall, if you hosted two terrible shows and one surprisingly fantastic show, you’re only gonna rise a smidge.

Everyone who hosted from Series 18, as well as from Series’ 23-27, is illegible, save for two names…Simon Amstell and Rhod Gilbert. As they ended up hosting series’ of the show, it’s kind of obvious that their ‘audition shows’ in the Guest Host series were successful. Additionally, one of them may have hosted a show that wasn’t really indicative how how their full-series went. So, for the sake of continuity, they’re not included here.

On with the rankings, from #s 59 to 41:

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#59: Tim Westwood (Series 24 Episode 7)

(fixes palm to temple)

Somebody had to come in last, and if it was somebody other than Westwood, I’d have seriously question the quality of guest hosts Buzzcocks had. Westwood, to his credit, was himself, didn’t change for the recording. However, that was also his biggest problem- this childish, unsophisticated, boorish DJ was the absolute wrong fit for the show, constantly referring to Phill Jupitus as ‘Uncle Phill’, and trying to keep the show hip and cool while simultaneously dating it with every colloquialism and slang phrase. The show’s runner, the ‘wheel of JLS’, was even shoddier with Westwood at the helm, and not even Aston Merrygold could escape from the banality. Hell, Noel had to stop the show at one point to correct Westwood’s atrocious delivery on a joke, which resulted in an even more painful, awkward telling of it.
Just…the absolute worst. And probably my least favorite episode of the show.

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#58- Mark Ronson (Series 24, Episode 1)

Say what you will about Mark Ronson’s achievements in the world of producing, helping Adele produce ’18’, and currently prepping the latest Queens of the Stone Age album, but when he showed up on the Series 24 premiere, something felt…off. Especially considering his boilerplate-but-harmless appearance guest-captaining the Series 22 premiere. This Mark felt distracted, lost, and…for lack of a better word, high off his tits. I’m not sure what kind of substance Mark was on that night, but his autocue readings were a series low, and his joke-readings were just as appalling as Westwood’s. Plus, his appearance looked straight out of a bad sequel to The Mask.
Despite this, I will say his moment of geeking out to ‘Captain Cabinet’ with Noel was pretty great, but he seemed dead and blurred for the rest of the show.

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#57: Kristen Schaal (Series 27 Episode 5)

As much as I love Kristen on Bob’s Burgers, and on 30 Rock, leaving her to her own devices as guest host was a mistake, as she was annoying and yelly for most of the show. Kristen’s known for this childlike, high-pitched, goofy, borderline psychotic demeanor (So Louise Belcher, essentially), and it was off-putting for the panelists, as well as for the audience. The producers’ decision to stock the show with 3 X-Factor personnel who all knew each other…and David O’Doherty, who only knew Kristen, was also a mistake, as the dynamics were mixed and flawed from the start. The boorish show was capped off by a dastardly plot to give the show to Kristen’s pal Noel by swerving next lines in his favor, which pissed off Phill’s team. Just an unfortunately unwatchable show from someone who’s best suited for an ensemble.

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#56- Ne-Yo (Series 26 Episode 6)

That picture just about says it all. Ne-Yo just thinking to himself ‘how the fuck did I get here?’

To be fair, Ne-Yo tried, quite hard actually, to make the most of a booking that’d obviously been handed off at random, but his autocue readings, his unexcited demeanor, and his slowly growing confusion as to what the hell was going on around him, led to a less-than-favorable performance, one where it seemed like the well-stocked panel was carrying the show forward despite him. It didn’t help that Noel, David O’Doherty AND Stacey Solomon were there to take his relaxed demeanor and make him regret it. In all fairness, this was a pretty nice show, and the panel was pretty sharp, but Ne-Yo’s performance detracted from what could have been a great one, ironically, by simply not wanting to let himself love us.

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#55- Juliette Lewis (Series 24 Episode 10)

Along the same school as Ne-Yo, in that the people who do the bookings for the show probably put up their hands and shrugged, and Juliette Lewis probably wasn’t doing anything that week…and probably agreed thanks to the promise of booze. I mean, on one hand she was happy, and in a great mood, but on the other hand she was so wasted that you really couldn’t have expected a coherent show out of her. She also didn’t really know how to host, as she gave teams points for deliberating between the correct answer, and just sort of kept the game on autopilot, again, leaving the panelists to carry the game by themselves. I mean, with Vic Reeves there you really didn’t need her, but the fact that she was so out of it definitely detracted from the show. That’s the main problem with Juliette- she was a distraction rather than an addition.

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#54- Cilla Black (Series 25 Episode 10)

When someone with legitimate old-school mystique around them hosts the show, you kinda want them to pull through and knock it out of the park. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and the people you’ve been building up in your head as these legendary, indestructible figures are a now kinda senile and scattered. This was unfortunately the case for the great Cilla Black, who seemed a bit out of her element hosting Buzzcocks, and aside from a nice little anecdote about the Beatles’ sex habits, never really got the laughs she wanted (that weren’t unintentional). It felt like she was being carried by the mystique of what she used to be, rather than what she was trying to be then. Plus, having Angelos Epithimieou on the panel may not have been the best idea for someone who’s easily confused like Cilla Black. So yeah, the thought was in the right place, but it didn’t work out, and that’s kinda sad for someone who had a career like Cilla’s.

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#53- Rizzle Kicks (Series 27 Episode 7)

Ah, yes, the two guys responsible for one of the hardest-to-watch Buzzcocks episodes of all time. It’s not that they weren’t funny- they actually had some nice moments, especially Jordan’s cry of racism when Noel didn’t invite them to watch Grease with him and Paul- but how they handled the Huey Morgan meltdown was pretty mean-spirited. First of all, they kind of goaded him on throughout the show, annoying him to the point that by the time Next Lines came around, he was sick of them, to the point where he, yes, smashed a mug and stormed off. The sadder part is that up until that point, Rizzle Kicks were merely okay at hosting, without any real memorable moments, or anything that lifted them above par. It’s just the Huey incident, and the way they followed it by making fun of them, that damages their case. They tried, but no matter whose side you’re on in the Huey-Rizzle Kicks debate, you have to admit that they could have handled the whole thing MUCH better.

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#52- Jack Whitehall (Series 23 Episode 4, Series 26 Episode 3, Series 27 Episode 9)

When I was going through a few message boards for Buzzcocks, I got a lot of people saying that Jack Whitehall’s episode was one of the worst, because he’s not at all funny. And as someone who agrees that Jack Whitehall is not funny, I tried to find a silver lining in his episode in Series 23…and I couldn’t. Not for the life of me.

The biggest problem I have with Jack Whitehall, especially on this show, is that he’s way too cheeky and outwardly mean towards people, especially people on the panel. After a low-energy Series 22, I thought that Buzzcocks was trying to get away from someone like Simon Amstell, someone who was busy making it fun for him rather than making it fun for an audience. And through Jack’s first few gigs, that’s what we got- direct meanness, takeaways from the quiz, unfunny jokes, bad hosting technique, and just some really poor shows.

What keeps him off of the bottom spot is the fact that his Series 27 episode was a ton better, but only because he had the kind of panel to buttress his cheekiness. Kriss Akabusi and Alex Brooker swerved the offensive from Jack onto the panel…to the panel onto Jack, thanks to the running gag about Johnny Worrell’s sister. So they managed to get a good episode out of Jack Whitehall, thanks to someone finally getting the best of Jack Whitehall.

#51 – Dale Winton (Series 18 Episode 7)

Series 18’s guest hosts stand out to me, because it’s clear that the producers tried to farm from a wide range of BBC talent, but mainly stuck to a bunch of presenters (Ross, Laverne, Clarkson, Amstell). Dale Winton was the umpteenth presenter to, well, present Buzzcocks, and definitely brings up the rear as far as Series 18 efforts are concerned.

Dale’s main schtick is being an orange gay guy who occasionally hosts Supermarket Sweep- I’ll argue that he was used a ton better in the Series 21 episode he was a panelist on, rather than this episode, where I can barely remember any of his material, mostly just lines had at his expense. I don’t think I need to tell you that he can read a prompter or be good on camera, but I don’t think he was the greatest fit for the host’s chair. Not really for any appalling things he did, but for what he didn’t do, which was make any real impact.

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#50- David Hasselhoff (Series 25 Episode 1)

In 2011, David Hasselhoff was plucked from his steady gig judging for America’s Got Talent to judge…Britain’s Got Talent. It was so close to his old job that the Hoff couldn’t have been able to fuck it up…and yet, he did. Still, while he was farming his comeback in the UK, he stopped by Buzzcocks to host, and it was…memorable. Yeah. Memorable.

Part of Hoff’s appeal is that he’s not exactly what you’d call intentionally funny. The guy’s made a career out of being a joke, whether he’s taking himself too seriously or not seriously enough. He kept the former ideology while hosting Buzzcocks, with some over-the-top autocue reads, bombastic hosting, and general bizarre Hasselhoffishness. Honestly, his biggest problem was his ultimate inability to take the show seriously, taking some time out of autocue jokes to break character and go ‘this is true’ or ‘this is gonna get me fired’. You could see Hoff the character cracking to reveal Hoff the man.

Like Whitehall, Hoff’s finest moments here were when the joke was on him, including a moment where he had to read a nasty joke about Simon Cowell and Sinitta, and you could see the enthusiasm drain from his face with every word, knowing he’d be losing his job soon.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 9.55.35 PM.png#49- Dizzee Rascal (Series 27 Episode 11)

While Dizzee’s show was a solid middle-of-the-road one, fueled by some insane panel moments, a botched backflip, and Jamie Cullum’s piano playing, Dizzee’s hosting was less middle of the road and more tar off the road. The guy’s idea of hosting was just sitting around and watching the panelists go, instead of realizing that he could occasionally chime in. He kept a very low-key, defensive approach to the game, which ultimately stopped his episode from making a real impact.

His only highlights were his brief abilities to be himself, breaking into an impromptu version of Bonkers, and laughing at an autocue joke about himself. Other than that, not much lifted him off the ground.

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#48- Mark Watson (Series 23 Episode 7)

My main gripe with Mark Watson’s show wasn’t his humor, his hosting, or anything. I simply thought he was a much better panelist than he was a host. Mark’s best stuff comes from adding onto material rather than initiating it, and with him as the anchor this show, it wasn’t as successful. The show was fine enough, if kinda low-key, but Mark took a quieter, less animated approach to reading and hosting, and fell victim to a gimmicky bit involving Chico, who, according to Mark, had ‘been down there since 2006′. So yeah, while he’s a funny chap, and had some great Buzzcocks’, his hosting gig was disappointing to me.

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#47- Stephen Mangan, (Series 26 Episode 10)

What the producers would do rather often during this era was take a host that didn’t bring too much to the table and assign them a gimmick to weave through, rather than spin them on their own merits. With Stephen Mangan, they made his episode the ‘World Music Special’, which detracted from a quiet enough panel. While the gimmick was initially amusing, there wasn’t a great deal that was fresh after a while, and once you took away the theme, Stephen didn’t have a ton of great material, despite having his usual charisma and quick lines. I mean, Stephen tried, but what can you do when the producers are more focused on what the theme/gimmick can do than what you can do?

#46- Lauren Laverne, (Series 18 Episode 4)

Another presenter-friendly Series 18 booking, and another great personality that failed to break out of a ho-hum show. I’ll give Lauren credit for trying, as she’s one of the better recurring guests of the show’s history, and she used the personality to her advantage with her autocue reads, but I can’t remember much at all about her material, or her dynamic with the panel. If anything, this was more Rhod Gilbert’s show than it was Lauren’s- the fact that you could see that a panelist would be a better pick as host than the person actually hosting wasn’t a great sign. Again, Lauren would have much better luck as a panelist, but her hosting gig, while not particularly bad, couldn’t really make itself memorable.

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#45- Claudia Winkleman, Series 23 Episode 6

Even from her opening moments, Claudia Winkleman knew she wasn’t necessarily the producers’ first choice: “I’m Claudia Winkleman, and that can only mean one thing…Biggins is busy.” With Buzzcocks, you can’t really be sure if this is an indirect slam or an allusion to a booking that fell through, but if it’s the latter, that does explain why Claudia didn’t have a ton to do that set her apart from the pack, other than having fun and doing good-enough hosting and reading. Honestly, what brings her down this low is the forgettability of her hosting- I remember more about Harry Shearer and Jamelia than I do about her hosting, which is kinda sad. Yeah, Claudia’s a great addition to the fold, and her stuff as a panelist, and on the Big Fat Quiz, is exemplary, but she didn’t have a ton to do here. Maybe an appearance from Christopher Biggins would have at least been more memorable.

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#44- David O’Doherty, Series 24 Episode 5

David O’Doherty HOSTING Buzzcocks. In my head, this was a fantastic idea, and I was kinda looking forward to the show as it got closer, knowing his bizarre humor, especially relating to pandas or megaphones. But when I got there…the producers decided to throw me a curveball, and, like the Mangan show, made it entirely gimmick based, with almost no room for David to be himself and make weird, fun little jokes, because the entire show was beating the one-joke premise that Shakira was supposed to host, and David O’Doherty is absolutely nothing like Shakira. Maddeningly, that’s really the only takeaway from this show that it was the ‘Shakira show’, not the ‘David O’Doherty show’. Again, as funny as he is, especially on shows where he was a panelist, the producers shafted him when it came time for him to host.

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#43- Liza Tarbuck, Series 26 Episode 11

We’ve gotten to the part of the countdown where some of these guest-hosts were so middle of the road, so good-but-passable that honestly anybody could have hosted, and the game would have gone on the exact same way. Liza, despite her enthusiasm and the fact that her birthday was the day after the taping, hosted a very middle of the road show. She was good, didn’t make any wrong moves, but didn’t do anything too memorable, either. When it came time to screw with guest Rita Ora for her dog fixation, it was mostly Jason Manford and Noel Fielding who took the offensive. I’d actually compare her material here to anything from an episode of QI with her- amusing, good for a second’s glance, but nothing too extraordinary.

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#42- Alex James (Series 23 Episode 3)

I’m not gonna sit here and lie and say that Alex James wasn’t happy to be here- he was thrilled, enthusiastically blasting his band’s ‘Song 2’, and handing out his trademark cheeses throughout the show. What keeps him this low is the fact that he didn’t especially do much else, other than cover those same two bases over the course of the night. It’s obvious he loves the show, and he loves the experience, but his reads were slightly askew, and he let Peter Serafinowicz and Holly Walsh do most of the comedic heavy lifting for the night. That’s not to say that James made no impact on Buzzcocks history- his eventual return as a panelist was pretty cool, and his role as narrator of the eventual retrospective series ‘What A Load of Buzzcocks’ was a charismatic touch on the generally pretty good run. But the hosting gig of his wasn’t as good as could have been because it only scratched the surface.

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#41- Will Young (Series 25 Episode 5)

Yeah, you can tell by that first shot that the former Pop Idol winner wasn’t 100% into this hosting gig. Young stuck with a very laid-back approach to hosting, and a general demeanor that said that the producers had waited about 8 years too late to book him. I mean, he was harmless enough, and did well enough keeping the game going, but his autocue reads were less than favorable, and he didn’t seem terribly interested in the proceedings. The one saving grace of his episode was the fact that Phill and the panel were able to rip him a new one over allegedly having sex in a bin, and the fact that Will didn’t really know how to break from his hosting demeanor in order to respond.

That’s all I’ll do for tonight- expect #s 40 to 21 to come very soon. Expect a bit more optimism in those.

The Final Nevermind Watchdown: S28E12, or ‘This is the wrong show for THAT shit!”

(long sigh)

Well, this is it. The last Never Mind the Buzzcocks episode ever. The series went for 28 seasons, three permanent hosts, four permanent captains, and seven Richard Fairbrass appearances. And it wasn’t angry guests, or appalled network execs that did the show in, but a lack of ratings, and a network that wanted to move on to other programming. While I’d normally criticize BBC for not giving Buzzcocks a chance…they’d given them 27.

So tonight’s not only the last episode of the show, but the last Christmas episode of the show. A few returning players are here, like hateable X-Factor judge Louis Walsh and legendary Sex Pistols member Glen Matlock, as well as some newcomers, like comedian Lloyd Langford and R&B/Pop singer Melissa Steel.

Everyone’s in costume, too- Louis is early Yoko Ono, Glen is a ‘Cockney John Lennon’, Melissa’s wearing a puffy coat like the East 17 music video, BOTH PHILL AND NOEL are Roy Wood, and Rhod…is dressed like Mariah Carey.
Noel: “You look like Benedict Cumberbatch in drag!”

Rhod eventually asks Lloyd, in choir boy garb, who he’s come as.
Lloyd: “I’ve, uh, come undercover from Operation Yewtree”

Rhod, for his Album Covers round, asks some good rhetoricals: “Do Daniel Bedingfield album covers always feature a bloke called Daniel…in bed…in a field? Do Garbage covers always have a picture of Westlife on the front?”
And WHO DO THEY CUT TO?
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Rhod: “…I’m waiting for the defense!”
Louis: “No!”

Rhod, on the first album cover, with a guy with a beard looking at the camera: “What d’you think we’d see if we panned back a bit?”
Noel: “Children’s shoes?”
Audience groans at this
Rhod, trying: “Yes, because who doesn’t love…a children’s SHOEMAKER??”

Rhod, motioning to his costume: “It’s about an A-cup girl.”
Melissa: “Oh, you’re bigger than an A, darling..”

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 9.44.39 PM.pngLloyd: “I love my rat so much I let him sleep under my nose.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 9.46.29 PM.pngPhill: “Is that just me, or is that a young Stephen Fry on the right?”

This round was actually really nice, and had a nice, loose feel to it, and we got a ton of personality out of the panelists without needling them. It reminded me of Alice Cooper’s final round, where Wretch-32 just had some really off-the-cuff hysterical answers.

A conversation with Louis about X-Factor stuff leads Noel to bring up Jedward.
Noel: “They were on my team when they were on. They were delightful boys. They ate a whole box of Celebrations before the show, and went out of their FUCKING MINDS…”
That explains a lot.

Phill, continuing reminiscing: “They had a handler with them.”
Noel: “Yeah, a whisperer…”

Phill, to Louis, pre-intros: “I’ll do the bells…and then you do the neighing, and then we’ll really get into it…”
Noel: “This is like the audiobook version of the song…”

Melissa and Noel work really well on Intros. This isn’t a necessarily funny round, but there are some really good intros here. Glen even says one of them sounded exactly like the record.

There’s a nice runner where whenever Rhod announces the scores, Noel overshoots a guess of how many points his team has.
i.e.-Rhod: “PHILL’S TEAM HAS 3, AND….OOOOOH, NOEL’S TEAM-”
Noel: “42!”
Rhod: “FOUR!”

Once again, this ID Parade has a former X Factor contestant, and Phill’s team needs to guess by voice.

#4 actually does a really good, soulful rendition of the line, even if it’s obviously not her.
Phill: “[Louis’] not actually on the X-Factor right now, sweetheart…this is the WRONG SHOW for that shit!”

Noel, as Louis deliberates: “Has this just turned into a game where Louis’ trying to remember someone he knew in the past?”

Okay, even in its final moments, and even in a pretty okay show, Buzzcocks is able to get one more belly-laugh out of me. For Noel’s ID Parade, Rhod brings out a parade of Snowmen, for the, well, The Snowman animated movie. They’re all snowman mascots, except for #5.
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Audience: “..aaawwww…”
Rhod: “Or #5…..DEATH!!!”

Then, as the real Snowman is revealed, Rhod asks him to have a ‘walk in the air’ around the studio with Noel, and they do that for a bit…until Noel ditches him for one of the fake snowmen, as Rhod screams “NO! NO!” from the sidelines.

The snowman motions to Rhod that there’s a white vinyl of the Snowman coming out soon.
Rhod: ‘When’s it coming out?”
Glen, deadpan: “…Christmas…”

Lloyd, as the Snowman joins his panel, and hugs him: “This looks like a Grindr date that’s gone badly wrong…”

Overall: Not the heftiest, but a smooth, fun, inoffensive end to a generally pretty good season. There wasn’t really a standout panelists, though everyone had moments to shine. Glen’s aloofness suited him, and he seemed like he had a nice time. Louis’ always happy to be on. Lloyd had some nice lines, and Melissa was a really cool personality to have on. There were some good moments, though not too much to lift us over ‘passable’, but enough to end the season, and the show run, on something of a high note.

Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Louis
Best Runner: Noel missing the score

SERIES 28 SUPERLATIVES!
Best Episode: Episode 4, quite possibly the crowning achievement of the post Amstell-Buzzcocks era. James Acaster had a career performance, there was talk of deep-beavering, HarMar Superstar’s belly, and Rhod’s botched bongo playing, which is probably the hardest I’ve laughed at Buzzcocks in years.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 3, the John Cooper Clarke show, where the punk poet gave this weird amount of energy to a show that clearly didn’t need it, thanks to Amelia Lily’s baby noises and Sara Pascoe’s wonderfully adorable ID Parade performance.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 8. I nearly went with Episode 2, the Seann Walsh and Stacey Solomon show, but Episode 8 is probably the most feel-good show they’ve had that didn’t include Bob Mortimer. Paloma was even more adorable than usual, Loyd Grossman was an odd but game presence, Charlie Simpson kept going after lemon drizzle cake, and there was a great moment with a live rabbit AND with Rhod’s dog Rosie.
Worst Episode: Episode 10. Everything that worked in the first few episodes fell apart, with Rhod’s hosting becoming too lax and strict, and the panel not getting enough time to shine.
Best Regular: Noel Fielding, for taking one last chance to push his bizarre humor to high gear, and win with personality.
Best Comedian Panelist: James Acaster, Episode 4. There’s a ton of competition, but I don’t think anybody had a night like James did. He kept the entire show moving by his command, and was responsible for some of the funniest moments of a truly hysterical show (plus, his weakness is George Harrison music!) Honorable Mentions go to Seann Walsh, Sara Pascoe, Paul Foot, Joe Lycett, Aisling Bea, Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan, Rob Beckett, Romesh Ranganathan and Bobby Mair.
Best Musician Panelist: Michael Ball, Episode 7. Tougher competition because while there were a ton of nice ones, nobody had a flat-out dominant show like Ana in S27 or Mark Hoppus in S26. Michael Ball is an exception, as he had even more fun than he did on his previous two performances, read some Adult Lit while Phill licked his ear, and correcting people on Streisand lyrics. Nearly went with Nicole Scherzinger, Lethal Bizzle, Charli XCX, Charlie Simpson, Glen Matlock, Professor Green, Matty Healy, Van McCann. Also would have gone with John Cooper Clarke here, but he blurred the line too much between comic and musician that it didn’t make sense.
Biggest Dartboard: Stacey Solomon, Episode 2. As per usual.
Most Confused Panelist: Stacey Solomon, Episode 2. Again, as per usual.
Best Sport: Louis Walsh, Episode 12, by taking all the Westlife slams and X-Factor jokes in stride, and just having a good time.
Best Runner: Rhod’s Invisible Bongos, starting in Episode 2 and popping up in a few more episodes. This one was the gift that kept on giving, leading to that insanely funny moment in Episode 4.

So, that was Never Mind the Buzzcocks. There were highs (Mark Lamarr’s era, the Donny Tourette show, Frankie Boyle), and lows (Series 17, Series 22, Tim Westwood), but I’m still glad I watched through this entire series, and I’ve learned a ton more about British music, British comedy, and toblerone bars.

Next…I’m gonna at least try to finish this series of QI, but I have another Watchdown planned. It’s slightly less expansive than Buzzcocks, but like QI this show is still going, and like Buzzcocks I have different hosts and regulars to combat and clash. Also, unlike QI AND Buzzcocks, I’m not gonna be watching this down for the first time. This is a show I’ve watched for years, and I’ve briefly skimmed through, and I’m deciding that it’s time I do a proper, full rewatch. I may polarize some of the fans who only read the blog for Buzzcocks write-ups…but I’m secretly hoping said Buzzcocks fans also enjoy some short-form improvisational comedy…

Nevermind Watchdown: S28E11, or Have Some Respect for the Host, STEVE!

Tonight, we have the PENULTIMATE BUZZCOCKS. The second-to-last episode ever. And hopefully this one will be a good one, as after a rousing start to the series, things have gotten off the rails a bit. We need to finish strong, not weakly.

None of tonight’s panelists have been on before, but I have heard of one of them, and that’s Steve Aoki, EDM heavy-hitter. Rumer is a 70s-aping pop singer, Yasmine Akram’s a comedian and actress that’s made out with Benedict Cumberbatch onscreen, and Bobby Mair’s our ‘requisite comedian’ for the night.

Rhod reads in Bobby’s intro that he’s Justin Bieber’s third cousin. “IS THIS TRRRUE?”
Bobby: “Yeah…I wouldn’t lie to you just to get on the show…”

Rhod indirectly says that Bobby’s not gonna meet Obama anytime soon.
Bobby: ‘What are you talking about? I have a trustworthy face! When you look at my face, you think…’babysitter’…”
Noel: “No, when I look at YOUR face, I think ‘first person to get killer in a horror film…”

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 8.53.20 PM.pngBobby: “Look at this team, though. Look at us! I feel normal for once! I mean, we look like the extras in a heroin den…”

Rhod says that Phill’s ‘Blurred Videos’ group is the most successful Danish band.
Rumer: “Is it…ABBA…but they’ve moved to Denmark…?”

The first round is kind of a dud, because we don’t get a ton of talk about the artists, or the progression of the round.

Phill and Rumer’s first intro is a mess, and Rhod basically says “Yasmine, I’ll give you a point and a biscuit if you get that one…I have the card in front of me and I can’t even recognize it.”

Rhod says that he’ll give Yasmine the point if she names literally any song.
Yasmine, trying: “Oh, it’s…David Bowie’s…favorite song…Man on the Moon.”
Rhod: “…I just gave you pretty much a free point there. All you had to do was mention a song…and you couldn’t”
Bobby: “I got this one…Candle in the Wind, Diana’s funeral version.”
Rhod: “…of course, THAT IS A SONG…you can have a point.”

Rhod mentions the name of the Earth, Wind and Fire song, and someone from the audience cheers.
Rhod: “WHAT, DID *YOU* GET IT?”
Phill: “SEE, THEY GOT IT!!”
Rhod: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve got special guests- Earth Wind and Fire are in tonight…”

Yasmine: “Ah, I only know it when the singing comes in…”
Rhod: “Yes, that is the problem with the intros round…”

Rhod reveals that Bobby got beaten up on stage once.
Bobby: “Yeeeeah, a man punched me in the face a lot…the audience just WATCHED…which made me think that maybe the gig wasn’t going as well as I thought it was…and then one of my friends came on and pulled him off…”
Phill, taking this the wrong way: “Good work!”

Steve, giving Bobby a clue for the Bob Marley intro: “What are you thinking about, when I go like that…and I’m pulling my hair like this?”
Bobby: “…having sex with you from behind?”

Bobby trying to get the Marley song seems to be a herculean effort, because he doesn’t know music. Unlike, say, Paul Foot, Bobby sifting for clues is a bit funnier because the joke isn’t exactly belabored, and he seems pretty earnest about wanting to know it.

Bobby, as the real ‘Could You Be Loved’ plays in: “I’VE NEVER HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE!”
Rhod: “I wish he was joking.”

Steve, pre Flying Lizards intro: “This is a tough one, but you might get it because you’re weird and it’s a weird band-”
Bobby: “Oh, so I’M WEIRD NOW! I don’t know music, but I have WEIRD KNOWLEDGE!”

Bobby, with the envelope covering his face: “I DON’T KNOW!”
Yasmine: “YOU DO KNOW! EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD KNOWS THIS!”
Bobby: ‘SHUT UP…Is that YASMINE?’

ID Parade happens halfway through the show. I’m hoping this show turns out to be bottom-heavy, because that Intros round picked up a TON of slack.

Phill: “Uhhh…it’s #2, but…actually, no. It’s #2.”
Rhod: “How do you know that?”
Phill: “Because that’s Linda Lewis!”
Rhod: “Okay, let’s see if you know ALL their names!”

Noel’s ID Parade gets probably one of the biggest ID Parade gets, Terry Chimes, the drummer for the Clash. Phill’s probably going nuts in his chair.

Bobby: “5 looks like a Butcher…3 looks like Steve Buscemi if things didn’t work out…”

Steve has taken the defensive for most of the show, but when Terry Chimes comes out he gets some rock and roll chills, and talks about how the Clash are one of his influences, even doing a bowing motion when the real Terry is revealed. Steve’s having a quieter show, but he’s anything but a NPC.

Even better, Phill manages to get Terry, one of his idols, to join his team for Next Lines. That’s gotta be awesome for Phill.

PLUS…Steve mentioned earlier that he enjoys ‘cake-ing’ his fans, and one of his fans is on hand as a member of the Terry Chimes ID Parade…who’s come here to be caked by Steve Aoki. That’s fantastic. If it weren’t for a dead first round, this show would be a truly great one.

As Steve is deliberating, Rhod’s standing behind him…and Noel is sloooowly trying to tip the cake onto Rhod’s face. They have to stop and laugh at the botched attempt, which got a bit of cake on Rhod’s jacket.
Steve: “I didn’t do anything! I swear!”
Bobby: “HAVE SOME RESPECT FOR THE HOST, *STEVE*…”

As Steve gets up in front of the lineup with the cake, Bobby runs up to take #2’s spot. Man, things just got ELECTRIC right at Intros.

Steve, not knowing it’s a harder cake, ends up projectile launching the cake at #3’s face, making his face even redder than it was.
Noel: “#3’s gonna have to go to hospital…”

Steve, after an insane final round: “…I can’t believe what just happened.”
Phill: “Oh, so YOU throw a gateau at a person, and suddenly the SHOW’S weird?”

Overall: Started absolutely lifeless, and slowly, surely, it became a wobbly but still electric show. It helped that Bobby Mair was injecting the show with life from moment one, but an insanely good Intros round, and an even better ID Parade, boosted the momentum. Steve had a fun show, if slightly disappointing given that he’s Steve Aoki, Yasmine had some nice moments, Rumer took a backseat, and Dr. Terry Chimes deserves a bonus shout out for helping keep the momentum going.

Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Bobby
Best Runner: Bobby doesn’t know any music

Nevermind Watchdown: S28E10, or We Happen to Know that it’s Multiple Choice..

Now for another Buzzcocks, this one being the third-to-last in the series, and a return appearance for Kym Marsh from Hear’Say, a debut for the wonderfully dour Romesh Ranganathan, plus appearances from Charlie and Jake from Rixton, and Van McCann, lead singer of ‘Soundcheck’ rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen. That’s a cool enough panel, I’d say.

(FYI- I’m not sure which one’s Jake and which one’s Charlie, because unlike Daphne & Celeste, and unlike Rizzle Kicks, I can’t really be bothered to tell them apart.)

Charlie, setting up a story: “We were in this very small studio, VERY SMALL-”
Noel: “How small?”
Jake: “…bout the size of this room.”
Noel: “…sure it wasn’t a cupboard?”

Rhod: “I, and this may surprise a few people, I am a massive fan of Coronation street.”
Van: “Yeah, I’m a massive corry fan m’self.”
Rhod: ‘Alright, let’s have a Corry-off.”

Rhod, to Van: “Do you agree, as a fellow Corry fan, do you agree…that Kym’s character…is a MISERABLE SHIT…”
Kym even laughs this one off.

Rhod even says that he was gonna do a montage of all the ‘Kym being miserable’ moments on Coronation Street, but they wanted too much money, so he does the entire montage himself, just yelling ‘OHHHH GOD’ and stuff in different voices.
Rhod: “OHHHH GOD, OHHHH GOD, STEEEEEVE, OHHHH GOD- And I’m only in January of this year- OHHHHH GOD…”

There’s a great little moment where Rhod mentions that Van tried to get a demo tape to Serge from Kasabian, and Van motions to Noel and goes “it’s his best mate, so gotta be careful…”

Van: “We went to a…man, what’d’you call where you buy a generator from, you know-”
Rhod: ‘A shop?”

This week brings back the Rhod-infused ‘it wasn’t me’ clip, culminating in ‘IT WASN’T BLUDDY ME, ALRIGHT??”

And, as usual, one of Rhod’s offhand accusations gets me: “Did Steppenwolf disband after they accidentally stepped on a wolf?”

Romesh admits that he looks like a photo-negative version of Phill. Man, if Nish Kumar said something like that, the comments section would crucify him.

Rhod, after a Romesh anecdote: “You know what I just remembered?…you got some options, it’s multiple choice..”
Yeah, another mistake from Rhod, but it’s done in such a characteristic way that I can’t really stay mad at him.

Rhod: “Let me just bring in the other team here. Don’t give away the answer, if you know it…”
Noel, dumbfounded: “…well then what are we supposed to do, then??Just stare at you?”
Rhod: “I just wanted you to be a part of the quiz!”
Noel: “What, do we hold up thought bubbles?”

Rhod asks his question for Noel’s team.
Noel, after a beat: “…we happen to know that it’s multiple choice…”

One thing I’ve noticed about this episode is that it’s much less structured and more out-of-sorts than the rest of the show, just sort of going off the rails at any point, and not even in a particularly fun way.

Jake, on Bono’s shoes: “Yeah, I remember hearing about this one. He fell off the stage, that gig…he went too close to the Edge…”
The audience groans. Jake playfully tells them to fuck off.
Jake: “…thank you very much, thanks for coming out…”
Rhod: “This is why we brought two of them, so one of them could leave after a joke like that…”

Rhod, as Romesh started as a misguided rapper, says that all of Phill and Rixton’s will be rap tunes,
Phill, immediately: ‘I don’t know this one at all, so you two can crack on…”
Romesh, as Phill leaves: “Are you really doing this?”
Phill: “What’s the point of having two extras if I can’t nip off?”
Noel: “Look at them two, home alone…”

As Rhod, once again this series, refuses a point for Romesh due to specificity.
Phill: “You don’t want to get on the wrong side of MC Ranga!”
Romesh: “…yeah, I will BANGA!”
Rhod: “…not sure who the victim is in that…”

Romesh: “…is it Wild Thing by Tone Loc?”
Rhod: “…it is-”
Romesh: “IF YOU GO TO THE OTHER SIDE, MATE, I WILL LOSE MY SHIT!”

Rhod, on Noel and Van’s first intro: “…it sounds like a Welsh blacksmith singing along to ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’…”

Romesh, on the Little Mix track: “That sounds a bit dark and heavy though…”
Phill: “Just now when you said the words ‘Dark and Heavy’, I thought that was the name of our cop show…”

Noel and Van’s Mamma Mia intro is so iconic that the entire panel comes in on Van’s cue. It’s a pretty nice intro, too.
Plus, Kym nails the first lyric of the song, and Phill keeps the intro going. It’s a really sweet moment.

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 10.59.26 PM.png“#3, Push-kin comes to shove-skin”
There’s a nice 10 seconds of Noel’s team laughing at this guy’s appearance.

Romesh’s stare down, and subsequent freestyle rapping, of the ID Parade gets some points for being funnier IMO than any of Paul Foot’s.

Overall: A noticeably weaker installment, awkwardly done thanks to some botched presenting from Rhod tonight. There had been some things that weren’t really problems before, but tonight his strict scoring and lax hosting impeded what could have been a fun show. The panel was nice, with Romesh having the standout night, and the other three doing merely alright. But there was just so much that didn’t work tonight, which is sad, because I don’t want this series to end on a bad skid of shows.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Romesh
Best Runner: OHHHH STEEEVE….

Nevermind Watchdown: S28E09, or It’s That Kind of Quick Thinking That Got Me This Job!

FOUR. EPISODES. LEFT.

AUGH.

This one’s allegedly a weird one, and from the lineup I can sorta tell why. Yes, Rob “What were you doing looking at my dad?” Beckett is here, but we also have Charli XCX, who’s collaborated with Iggy Azalea and did an SNL gig a few years ago (with Martin Freeman). And we have Phil Daniels…who played the lead in the Quadrophenia movie, and did the spoken part on Blur’s Parklife song? This is a ‘bottom of the barrel’ choice that could be good, like John Cooper Clarke, or just weird. Also, we have cellist Grace Chatto, from Clean Bandit. So quality is all over the place tonight.

Charli says she’s really nervous. Phill says that a good way to relieve the tension would be to lick Noel’s face.
Charlie: “Aw, gosh, my dad’s in the audience…”
Noel: “It’s alright, he licked me earlier tonight…”

Grace: “I didn’t even invite my dad…”
Phil: “My dad would be here…but he’s dead.”
Rhod, working an insane tonal shift: “…RIGHT, PARTY ON, DUDES!”

Grace: “I actually spent an amazing night with [Craig David]-”
Phill: “Oooh, hello!”
Rob: “Normally, he gives you a week, not a night.”
Rhod: “What night was it? Was it…”
David clip: “MOOOONDAY.”

Grace talks about Craig performing their song…to them.
Grace: “When it was over, Neil, our violinist, said it was the greatest moment of his entire life.”
Rob: “…what else has Neil done with his life?”

The whole panel’s making fun of Craig’s entirely white house.
Rob: “If the microphone’s white, how did he know where it was?”
Phill: “He got attacked by a polar bear the other day, did you not hear about this?”
Noel: “Are you sure this HAPPENED? You sure you weren’t looking at a Craig David coloring book?”

Rhod: “I challenge you all to not think of another ‘white house’ joke….let’s all just sit here until another one comes…then we’ll take out this gap and look really witty…”
Noel, finally: “…did he come in on a white horse, naked, so it looked like he was just floating?”
Rhod:
Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 9.57.41 PM.png

Rhod: “…by the time we take that gap out, that is gonna look ELECTRIC.”

Rob, trying to guess the 7 Days artist: “Is it a music person?”
Rhod: “It is…welcome to the show…”

Rhod’s positioned in front of the Mariah Carey photo
Rob: “…looks like you’re head’s getting squeezed into her boobs.”
Rhod: [reaches for her boobs]
[Bongo noise plays in]

For a bonus point, Rhod offers up another question.
Rob: “D’we buzz, or do we just…?”
Rhod: “You don’t buzz, because ya haven’t got anything to buzz with…”
Phill: “We’ve got a redundant button here, and I’m quite enjoying it…”
Rhod: “Alright, then, fingers on buzzers. No sound comes out, but I’ll try and LOOK.”
Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 10.04.51 PM

Rob prefaces the intros round by saying he’s gonna be shit at this.
Rhod: “If you get any of these right, Rob, I will make available to you…any sexual favor you want, FROM ME.”
Phill: “…I am not entirely sure that is an incentive.”

Rhod: “I am yours for the night, if you get this.”
Rob, to Phill and Grace: “Is it hard?”
Rhod: “…not yet.”

Rob’s not getting the first intro, which is done pretty well by Grace and Phill, and Rob’s just passing off.
Rhod eventually comes over and whispers: “…you have to pretend this is a big deal, because it’s Grace’s bloody song.”

Phill, on Noel and Charli getting up for Intros: “Oh, it’s like the bit at the end of the Jungle Book where Mowgli’s with Shere Khan.”
Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 10.13.03 PM.png

Noel, taking this a step further: “You sit there, I’ll stand over here, so it’ll be like Life of Pi..”

Phil, guessing randomly for Intros: “Turning Japanese!”
Noel: “…that is a better song…”

Phil, on the Say You’ll be there intro: “I’ll Give You Everything, Spice Girls.”
Charli raises her hands in the air triumphantly, and the audience applauds.
Rhod, standing up: “NO NO NO NO NO NO…”
Even Grace is going ‘THAT IS NOT WHAT IT’S CALLED!”

A huge scuffle breaks out, with Grace yelling at Charli, Charli yelling at Rhod, Rhod yelling at Grace AND Charli, Phill yelling at everyone, and Rob yelling ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING!’

Rhod decides to let Grace, an unabashed Spice Girls fan, do the intro with Noel and Charli. It leads to a great moment, where all three are doing a nice intro, and Phil…without any real options, just gets up and starts going ‘BONG BONG BONG BONG…’

ID Parade, Noel: “Well, Phil’s getting strong vibes off of #5.”
Rhod: “Oh, really? What kind of vibes you getting, Phil?”
Phil: “…strong ones.”

Noel: “I feel like #1’s got the boy band…nose.”
Rhod: “The challenge is not to build one band member out of everyone else’s face.”

Rhod…tells us a story, that’s 100% true.
Rhod: “We’d booked the drummer from Bad Manners…but he got the wrong day…we’ve got no lineup for you this week.
However, Rhod is able to pluck someone out of the audience who’s been in a band, and concocts an ID Parade out of absolutely NOTHING. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Hell, Rhod even invites CHARLI’S DAD, who’s still in the audience, to be a part of the lineup. This is fantastic!

Then, once he gets all 6 set up, Rhod realizes- ‘OH, I’VE GOT TO WRITE THE ‘IS IT #1, #2’, THAT SHIT!” So he races back to his desk. Meanwhile, Phill’s team is still blindfolded.
Noel: “Phill, you look like a ninja turtle…”

And then…Rhod, one last time, asks the guy what the name of the band was.
Phill, with his glasses over his blindfold: “IT’S NUMBER FOUR!”
And…they switch numbers.

And then, Rhod starts announcing the numbers…and Phill’s team is still blindfolded. So Rhod just breaks, looks at the camera, and motions for them to take off the blindfolds. This was a hot mess to film, but it’s a FUN hot mess.

Now, Rhod has to completely improvise the ID Parade intros
#1; Dr. Zero
#2: “Dr….BEARD. IT’S THAT KIND OF QUICK THINKING THAT GOT ME THIS JOB!”

Phill: ‘When were they active? Normally they give us a time-period.”
Rhod: “…it’s very difficult to ask them now, to be honest.”

Phill just guesses 2.
Phil, who’s SEEN THEM: ‘CAN WE HAVE A GO?”
Rhod: “SHUT UP!”

After Charli’s literally screamed 3 straight next lines.
Phill, a la Comic Book Guy: ‘SHOUTIEST…CONTESTANT…EVER.”

Overall: Not to the high caliber of the season, and generally kind of boilerplate for most of the show, with some exceptions. But that ID Parade round was the right kind of insane.  Yes, Phil and Rob had some nice moments, yes the Intros kerfuffle was great to watch, but it was a strangely edited show that had one takeaway, the ID Parade, that the rest of the show couldn’t match up to. The editing on the panelists wasn’t great, even if Charli was having a phenomenal time, and Grace was in a great mood. It was a flawed show, but not near enough to bring Series 28 down.

Best Regular: Rhod
Best Guest: Charli
Best Runner: Craig David’s extremely white house.

Nevermind Watchdown: S28E08 or GIVE BRITAIN WHAT THEY WANT, LOYD!

I blink and we’ve got 5 Never Mind the Buzzcocks episodes to go until the end. I feel like I’m enjoying the Rhod Gilbert series too quickly. Ah, well, onto another one.

Tonight on the panel, we’ve got long-awaited returns from former Busted member and current posh person Charlie Simpson, Canadian comedian and utter goddess Katherine Ryan, NOEL’S WIFE Paloma Faith, and a first appearance from TV personality and gastronome Loyd Grossman.

Okay, first of all…Loyd’s accent is confusing me. It’s this incredibly weird amalgamation between a British accent and an American accent. It’s not even like John Barrowman’s or Brian Molko’s, where one accent sort of won over and banished the other one to the shadow realm or something. Loyd is trying to make both his American accent and his acquired British accent work at the same time. Dear lord.

Loyd talks about the crowd at Glastonbury chanting ‘WE LOVE LOYD’S TESTICLES’ to the tune of some aria.
Noel: “…d’you have to produce them at that point?”

Paloma talks about doing a gig with Prince, and him inviting her back to his hotel for ‘lemon drizzle cake’
Katherine: “Was he giving you any flirty vibes?”
Paloma: “Oh, not even remotely…”
Charlie, being Charlie: “…was it good lemon drizzle cake?”

This new round involves an entire panel putting on a bizarre article of clothing, and matching it with an artist, which leads to this visual:
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 9.54.57 PM.png

Phill: “There is nothing here that I haven’t seen in Fielding’s wardrobe…”

Paloma: “Are they all separate, or are they one act?”
Rhod: “no, they’re all separate artistes-”
Phill: “No, we are…ONE BAND. One unforgettable band…we open for Loyd Grossman every year…”

Phill, for his article, guesses “Kenny Rogers having’ a nervous breakdown…”

Rhod asks what happened to Prince on the set of his 1999 music video.
Phill, without options: “…he was crushed by a hamster.”

Noel has an amazing, early-QI-esque point: “If a smoke machine gives you diarrhea, does it come out like a blizzard?”
After the strained, winced response, Noel goes: “…that’s a proper joke from ME. I can LEAVE now, probably…”

On Prince’s lips getting stuck in his guitar.
Katherine: “Hey, stranger things have happened. One time Beyonce’s weave got stuck in a fan onstage, and what did she do? She kept on singing.”
Phill: “And that fan’s name…was Barry.”
Noel: “And in court, when the judge said ‘and did you bite at Beyonce’, the fan went:
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.07.41 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.07.48 PM.png
Rhod: “THAT’S TWO! TWO PROPER JOKES!”
Noel: “I’M GOING!”

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.11.23 PM.pngPaloma, feeling up her Gaga balls, goes, as she comes up, “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…”

Loyd, with his cool whip bra, tops a cake for Rhod, though the stunt doesn’t go as planned, as Rhod walks away, going ‘it’s actually become rather offensive.”
THEN, Phill just walks over, going ‘feed me Loyd.”
Loyd, ever the gastronome, is refusing, saying it’s horrible for him, but Phill just keeps insisting.
Paloma: “GIVE BRITAIN WHAT THEY WANT, LOYD!”

Rhod, as Phill sits on Noel’s lap to catch whip cream from Loyd Grossman’s bra: “I promise you, it won’t get any weirder than that this series…I promise you, this is the benchmark for weirdness.”

Phill, of course, takes a mouthful…and then Noel chimes in with ‘LOYD’S MILKSHAKE BRINGS ALL THE BOYS TO THE YARD…”

And then, Noel chucks a piece of lemon drizzle cake across the room, and just as Phill goes to grab it, Charlie…again, being Charlie, stuffs it in his mouth.
Charlie, not at all aware: “oh, sorry mate.”
Phill: “There are MANY PEOPLE on British television you can do that with…but when there’s cake coming at me at 120 miles an hour… That’s the first time I’ve ever been cake-blocked.”

Rhod, being an insanely harsh judge, deducts a point from Paloma’s team for getting a Gaga bauble into the lemon drizzle cake. The audience, spurned on by Loyd, boos this.

Noel: “That’s the kind of thing your teacher does at school, and then all the kids whisper ‘I think his wife’s left him!’

Rhod gives Charlie, being a multi-instrumentalist, a bunch of contraptions combining instruments, and lets them do intros with them. This seems like a shitty idea, but the intro Phill and Charlie do for Jay-Z’s ‘N-Words in Paris’ makes up for it.

Thanks to the top-heavy (no pun intended, Loyd) edit, we only see this first intro from Phill and Charlie, but dare I say that it was worth it.

Paloma, after reading the first intro, in a plummy voice: “…We have our fingers WELL AND TRULY on the pulse here, LET ME TELL YOU…”
Phill just doubles over laughing at that.

Yeah, thanks to the edit, both teams only get one intro. Odd, but…thanks to the quality of the episode, I’m not worried.

For Jive Bunny, Rhod threw in some pun options, like ‘#2, Chive Bunny’ and ‘#4, Live Bunny’, which is, in fact, an actual rabbit.

ID Parade:
Loyd: “I rather fancy #5, actually.”
Phill, background: ‘hello…”
Rhod: “Yeah, well there’s no time for that.”

#3, drive-by bunny.
Noel: “3’s just sort of drifted off…staring at the audience.”
Rhod: “That’s because he’s carrying a fully-weighted car door…”

Paloma: “#2 has these new converse on that he’s worn specifically for the show.”
Rhod: “Listen, the ‘look at shoes’ is quite a useful thing in a normal lineup. When all of them have got rabbit heads on…I’d say you’re looking in the wrong area.”
Loyd: “Can we see what shoes the rabbit is wearing?”
Rhod, after a sigh: “…CAN WE HAVE A LOOK AT THE RABBIT’S SHOES?”
Noel: “Better not be DMs…”
Paloma, taking a look: “AWWW…UGGS!”

Noel, making a final decision: “It’s #4.”
Paloma, hugging Noel: “I LOVE YOU FOR THAT!”

It’s great- Rhod announces who the real Jive Bunny is, Noel goes over and shakes his hand…and then goes over to pet the rabbit.

Phill, knowing his panel, ID Parade: “UK Garage…Charlie?”
Charlie, the posh guy: “….”

Next Lines: “There’s a she-wolf in the closet.”
Phill: “…AND SHE WANTS…WOLF-SEX.”

Phill gets pissed at Rhod for yet another visual clue (this one being Eye of the Tiger), so he goes “I’m with Paloma, now. In fact…I’M GONNA HELP THEM.” And he goes over to Noel’s side for the round.

Rhod’s visual Next Line for Noel’s side is a lot better, as he gets a LIVE dog dressed in camouflage, for ‘Dogs of War’…and then throws a bunch of red hearts on him for ‘Hounds of Love’. Plus, it’s Rhod Gilbert with a dog, which adds to the already-high adorable factor of this episode.

Plus, after a while, the dog messes up Rhod’s Next Line cards, so Katherine comes over and starts handing some to him. To quote Phill on the post-Moyles show, ‘everyone’s so NICE…ON THIS SHOW…”

Plus, Rhod reveals that the dog from Next Lines was actually his dog Rosie, which makes this whole thing even cuter.

Rhod, motioning under the table: “Charlie, could you get this sponge away?”
Phill: “NO, DON’T LET *HIM* NEAR IT!”

Overall: Another show where everything just fit together, but also the single most adorable Buzzcocks in history. On the same show, you have such adorable items as Charlie Simpson eating lemon drizzle cake, Loyd Grossman being Loyd Grossman, Noel Fielding petting a rabbit, Paloma Faith…existing, Rhod bringing his dog out, and everyone banding together for a really fun Next Lines. Everyone had great material, everyone had great lines. The best show probably belonged to Paloma, because she’s always so amazing whenever she’s on. Just another amazingly feel-good show.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Paloma
Best Runner: Charlie and the cake.

Nevermind Watchdown: S28E07, or I JUST GOT THAT!

Onto yet another Series 28 Buzzcocks. This series is making a case for one of the best full-season showings in the show’s history, going up against Series’ 4, 5 and 20. How the hell is this happening at the very end of the run?

They managed to put together some more really nice panelists, too- Lethal Bizzle, who was really game the last time he was on, Sarah Millican, who’s always fun, Michael Ball, now sporting a goatee, who knocked two episodes out of the park, and Gemma Cairney, representing Buzzcocks’ occasional inclination to just have a TV presenter and DJ on every once in a while.

You can tell this is gonna be a fun one when Rhod cracks up literally as he’s doing his opening standup. He’s already kinda gone, and nothing’s happened yet.

This week’s Rhod-improved round clip is “Workin'” “NINE” “to 5…”
Rhod, afterwards: “…that was that…”
and then he breaks. Again.

Among his pre-round suggestions are ‘Do Steps now come ’round and help old people get into swimming pools? Did Hall and Oates later develop a cereal for people too busy to eat in the kitchen?”

One of the options for ‘What is Vanilla Ice doing now’ is that he’s become a motivational speaker, who’s even done a TED talk, entitled ‘Stop, Collaborate and Listen’.
Michael: “…I just got that…”
Rhod: “You don’t need to tell us when you get it, just laugh…”

Rhod, to Michael: “Have you got chandeliers in your house?”
Phill, who KNOWS the guy: “HE’S GOT CHANDELIERS IN HIS *CAR!*”
Rhod: “He’s got chandeliers in his underpants!”
Phill, taking the easy joke: “Yeah, plenty of ball room…”
Michael, post-applause: “..OH! I JUST GOT THAT!”

Michael reveals that all of his characters have to smell a certain way.
Sarah: “Have any of your characters ever smelt of fart?”
Michael: “Well-”
Phill: “That was a very memorable Les Miserables…”

Gemma: “I went to a panto once, and the Cinderella let out a fart that everybody could hear.”
Rhod, taking the one good panto joke: “Did you yell ‘IT’S BEHIND YOU’?”

Rhod, after the fart digression: “…I’m not sure if you’ve remember that we’re on television, sorry…”
Michael, breaking, to Noel: “I can’t believe I’ve just done that!”
Rhod, trying, rightfully, to get the game back on track: “What do we think about Vanilla Ice?”
Michael: “Aw, who cares?”
Rhod, under applause: “‘Who cares, let’s have a farting competition!”

There’s a great moment where Phill keeps trying to get Sarah to do ‘both parts’ of the Dion/Streisand song, by singing one of the parts. Phill gets a lyric wrong…then Sarah gives him the right lyric…then MICHAEL gives them BOTH the correct one. It’s hysterical.
Michael: “If you’re gonna do musical theatre, GET IT RIGHT!”
Rhod: “Oh, look at that, Michael Ball is turning in his live grave…”

Lethal, deliberating the Public Enemy question: “I dunno, mate, I’m stuck between the monks and the ostrich…”
Phill: “And we’ve all been THERE…”

Rhod, opens up, for a bonus point, and asks what everyone on the panel did before becoming famous.
Phill: “…Michael Ball used to kill people for the Corleones..”
Michael: “DAMN!”
Phill: “I’ve said too much…”
Rhod: “His weapon of choice…the bum-trumpet.”

One of the options is that somebody did erotic fiction
Phill: “I can imagine Millican doing that. ‘OOH, AND THEN HE ‘ELD EM…WITH ‘IS BEEG….MEATY HANDS….and he…TOOK ME OUT FER OUR SUPPAH…”
And then Phill AND Sarah absolutely break. My gosh.
Sarah: “…You’re right, all of my eroticism was based on food…”
Noel: ‘Every word in Geordie sounds funny. ‘POOUULSAAATIN'”

And then Phill AND Noel start attacking Rhod while still using the Sarah Millican erotic voice. AND THEN…THEY START BEATING DOWN ON RHOD’S BALL-BONGOS!

I’ll say that the bongos subscribe to the law of diminishing returns, but it’s still pretty damned funny whenever they’re rolled out.

AND THEN…Rhod gets everybody to read excerpts of the steamy adult fiction. Gemma’s given a very funny passage. Michael, complete with reading glasses, tries reading his without cracking up, but Phill just starts licking his ear. Michael, whilst reading, just side-eyes Phill, to make sure this is all really happening.

Lethal, reading his: “She ran her hands up and down his shaft.”
Phill, taking this the wrong way: “SHAFT!”

And then, as they hand the book off to Sarah, Phill goes ‘this is the one we’ve all been waiting for…”

Sarah: “…Clive…”
The whole room breaks EVEN HERE. DEAR GOD.
Sarah: “I’VE ONLY SAID ONE WORD.”

Lethal says that working in the file factory gave him a phobia of Sophie Ellis Bextor.
Rhod, with the button in hand: “And if he hears her music one more time, he’ll kill himself.”
They’ve pulled back. We all know what’s about to happen.
[music plays in]
Lethal: “….TURNITOOOOOOOOFFF!”

Lethal and Phill’s intro combo is really nice, and they do a really good version of Easy Lover by Phil Collins. Again, Lethal’s just really happy to be here, and just throws himself headfirst into everything.

Phill, on Michael and Noel getting up for intros: ‘LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, KENNY ROGERS AND ALICE COOPER…”
Both of them die laughing at this one. Phill’s having a career show
And then Michael leads Noel in a brief rendition of ‘Islands in the Stream’

And then, of course, Noel and Michael are great at intros. I would have preferred pairing him with Phill again, but he works well enough with Noel that it’s not a problem.

We have the THIRD CONSECUTIVE GARLICKING in ID Parade. Big Ben Ofoedu, from Phats and Small, who was on a bunch of times, is in the lineup tonight. Just like last time, Noel’s team has to locate him solely on his voice.

Gemma seems to think it’s #3, when..it’s pretty obvious that it’s 4. Gemma even says she wants 3 on her show every day, but when #4 pops out, Gemma just drops.

Rhod, to the real Buddy Ascott: “You’ve played with the Clash, the Buzzcocks, Ronnie Wood.”
Buddy: “Yeah…not all the same night, but…”

Instead of Next Lines (!!!!!!!), Rhod intros a ‘DENCH NEW ROUND’ called Brand or Band, where the panel has to determine whether a name is of a band or a brand. Seems fine enough.

I don’t think this round worked as well as Rhod wanted, as they barely got any in due to time. Other than lamp shading that Pork Queen is Sarah Millican’s nickname, not a ton happened.

Overall: Another truly strong Buzzcocks, possibly better than the last two. It helped that the ‘jobs’ round got everyone out of control, and led to Sarah Millican (and everyone) reading adult lit, but Gemma and Lethal had some really nice moments, Sarah was herself, and Michael Ball possibly had a show better than his last two. The slight deviations from format worked, and it was just a very loose, very fun show.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Michael
Best Runner: Michael farting.

Nevermind Watchdown: S28E06, or ‘There You Go, End With Some Dignity’

Onto another fun-filled Rhod Buzzcocks. This one features Lisa Stansfield, who hasn’t been on since the pregnant Claudia Winkleman episode, funny Irish lady and panel show staple Aisling Bea, a return for Scissor Sister and unexpected panel dominator ANA MATRONIC, and a return for effetely funny friend of Tony Blackburn Joe Lycett. That’s a very, very nice panel.

Rhod: “And we start the show this week with the IDENTITY PARADE??”
Phill: ‘WHAT? GILBERT, YOU’RE MAD WITH POWER!”

This is an insane ID Parade twist- the guest for Phill’s is Dane Bowers- he’s been on a billion times. But the trick is that they need to figure out solely from the singing voice which one is Dane. That’s pretty interesting.

It’s amusing as hell hearing the ones who can’t even sing. #2 makes Lisa cringe a bit. #4 sounds downright demonic, and is just ridiculous from the start.
Ana: “Definitely #4…”

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 11.23.40 PM.pngAisling: “They look a bit like the Village People, and then their mad friend at the end…”

Aisling, with the help of Joe, gets them all to do the ‘YMCA’, except for 2, who just looks around, bewildered.
Phill: “No, #2 is the ALL-SEEING EYE OF SARUMAN…”

Lisa, as opposed to her usual somber mood, goes over to #4, being over like he’s on the loo, and draws a little poo underneath him. Time really helps her smooth out, I guess..

It’s amusing as hell, because Aisling wants them all to sing other things, but all they can sing is ‘I WANNA GET FREAKY WITH YOU’. Heck, Rhod asks #4 to do it again, and he cracks up halfway through.

And once Dane breaks through the silhouette, Noel goes over and takes his spiky helmet, saying ‘I’m having this’.
Aisling: “Aw, if he’s getting’ the hat, can I have the angel wings?”
Noel, as Joe runs over: “Joe, leave the trousers on him…”

Rhod asks if Dane’s still touring.
Dane: “Yeah, still touring, DJing…otherwise just showing up on TV dressed as a bellend…”

And NOEL’S ID Parade has the second Garlicking in a row, this one also coming from the early days of Buzzcocks: Ashley Slater from Freak Power, who was literally on Episode 2 of the show, and did an insanely good rendition of Blue Monday with Phill, is on the ID Parade, and he’s obviously #2.

Once Rhod talks to him afterwards, he shows a ton of the laid back, droll, ironic humor he showed back in S1. Obviously times are a bit tougher, though.

Joe does a really nice impression of the X-Factor announcer…prompting Ana to wonder who that is. Pretty soon, Aisling’s doing a surprisingly good Louis Walsh impression. Just a very nice, fun dynamic.
And then Ana asks what impression Lisa Stansfield can do…and she tries doing a Jane Horrocks impression, but Noel even says ‘that’s the same as your OWN voice!”

Rhod: “Joe doesn’t like other people doing impressions.”
Joe, X-Factor voice: “GET OFF MY TURF.”

Joe: “Can you imagine if you were having sex with [Peter Dickson] and he was just going ‘AAACH’, like that?”
Rhod: “Yeah, that would be the worst thing about having sex with him, his voice.”
Joe, summing up the room’s reaction: “awwww, poor Peter…”
Rhod: “Quite right, that was awful, I’d LOVE to have sex with you, Peter Dickson. I take it all back, Peter, I’d like nothing mo-”
Phill: “AND NOW, THE SOUND OF PETER DICKSON HAVING SEX WITH RHOD GILBERT!”
Joe, Peter voice: “AAAAH, I’M ABOUT TO CUM, RHOD!”

After the 10 second clip from D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’
Joe, ever the thirsty one: “…I’m gonna need a minute.”
Rhod: “allow me, Joe.”
Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 11.44.51 PM.png

Aisling: “There’s probably a guy out of frame yanking on his balls so he can hit the high note.”
Rhod, hearing the word balls: “WAIT A MINUTE!”
And then Rhod pounds on D’Angelo’s balls as the bongo noise returns. Heck, the audience even gives some recognition applause.

Noel, channeling Bill Bailey: “i think…the reason they’ve cut this video there is that he’s a mermaid.”
Ana: “MerMAN.”

Rhod is extra strict in his intros judging with Aisling, nearly docking a point as she gives ‘Teardrops’ when it wasn’t plural, and throwing it over when she doesn’t get the actual title to the Vengaboys song.
The audience, sure enough, boos Rhod.
Rhod: “This isn’t a pantomime, calm down…”

Rhod: “I’m sorry, but it’s come from the top.”
Aisling: “What, JESUS told you to give me…”

Rhod: “In 2003, Frontman 3D and Damon Albarn paid for a full-page ad in the NME, against the Iraq War. Unfortunately, George Bush was still reading Smash Hits at the time [breaks] and the war went ahead as planned [breaks harder]”

Ana’s rendition of Larger Than Life by the BSB consists of a lot of misplaced loud screaming, and one or two confused looks to Rhod. Can’t write someone like her.

Joe, on Noel’s intro: “The last time I’d had a man in a glittery top sing at me, I’d been on Grindr earlier…”
Noel, as a Grindr profile: “I like anal and dressin’ up as Tron.”

However, Ana and Noel’s rendition of, I assume, the Norman Cook remix of Brimful of Asha, completely makes up for the misplaced BSB screams. It’s pretty damned perfect.

Rhod, on the BSB: “In 2006, Kevin Richardson left the band to pursue other interests…and he’s now in the music industry…”

Right before next lines, Phill and Lisa share a brief staring contest, with Lisa just wiping out with a scary expression. Man, she’s having so much fun tonight.

Rhod: “So I’m moving to New York.”
Lisa: “….when?”

Rhod: “And you can hear it in my accent when I talk.”
Phill: “AY’M FROM THE VALLEY!”

Rhod, for a visual clue, throws a bucket of sand on his head.
Joe: “…I have a serious mental health problem?'”

Rhod basically keeps everyone late until they guess the correct song title, as he put in too much effort to look like that for no reason.

Aisling guesses it’s Bastille.
Aisling: “It was really worth the prop, Rhod, I think it went really well…”

Rhod just sits there, covered in ash, embarrassed that the gag went wrong.
Phill: “Rhod Gilbert exposes crippling drug habit on television.”

Sure enough, Noel hands his helmet over to Rhod, and Aisling gives him the wings, saying ‘here, end with some dignity.”

Overall: Better than Episode 5, though not as good as 3 and 4…but STILL PRETTY DAMNED GOOD! The entire panel had something funny to do throughout the show, without a single dull moment. Ana was a few pegs down from last time, though she didn’t have Peter Andre to screw with. Lisa was just having a ball. The comedians won this one, with Joe having some hysterical moments, and Aisling making a name for herself outside of QI and tussling with Rhod for points. Solid show, complete with a really nice ending capper, and a great, but odd, ID Parade.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Joe
Best Runner: Peter Dickson